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INVESTIGATIVE UNIT: Parish boss suspended for using "n word"

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CLINTON- The highest ranking parish appointed employee in East Feliciana Parish is on suspension tonight, after she admitted to police jurors she sent racist text messages to another employee on her parish phone.

Barbara Vail, known as "Babs" in East Feliciana Parish, has been an employee for the parish for 31 years. Tonight, her career is in jeopardy. When we went to question her about it, she slammed the door on us and broke our microphone.

"Ma'am your comments please," Chief Investigator Chris Nakamoto said as Vail walked into the parish building today.

Instead, she slammed the door shut.

Police jurors told the Investigative unit, this week, messages Vail admitted to sending to another employee became public. The messages refer to an African American employee who worked as the parish secretary as the "n word." Employees say, the parish secretary was well-liked by all, but she abruptly quit her parish job two weeks ago.

Messages obtained by the Investigative Unit show Vail targeted the African American employee.

Vail writes to another employee, "We got to find a way to make her quit or something... Yeah, you right, but the n***** got to go....Read her linked in account."

"Some of the jurors said she called and apologized to them for doing it," East Feliciana Parish Police Juror Chris Hall said.

We were there today, as President of the Police Jury Louis Kent said this behavior won't be tolerated.

"She will be suspended," Kent said. "Today."

Three hours after she broke our microphone, Vail exited the parish building toting what appeared to be Girl Scout Cookies and candy. It happened as her suspension begins.

"Barbara, we understand you apologized for those messages. Would you like to issue a public apology," Nakamoto asked her. "Ma'am... you're taking a taxpayer issued vehicle home, you're on suspension....would you like to apologize?"

Vail said nothing.

Tonight, we've learned Vail began calling police jurors pleading with them so she could keep her job, and offered to take a week off for her behavior. Police Juror Chris Hall and Vice President of the Police Jury Sean Smith say they believe Vail needs to go. They said no African American workers could ever feel comfortable reporting to her, following what she admitted to sending on her parish phone.

"East Feliciana Parish will not tolerate this," Hall said. "We don't condone this, and if the accusations are true, Ms. Vail will be dealt with accordingly."

A special meeting was called for this Friday to discuss Vail's employment status with the parish. The personnel committee will meet, before the full jury votes on what happens to Vail for her misconduct.

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