The Alameda City Council voted 3 to 1 to hire outside counsel to investigate alleged racism by police. "We need to know the degree of racial unrest in the Police Department, the degree of racial awareness and sensitivity, and have an assessment of overall attitudes," said Mayor Bill Withrow at a special council meeting. The vote comes in the wake of an investigation that revealed four officers exchanged several racist messages on their electronic squad car computers. The officers have been temporarily suspended. The messages were revealed after an internal audit of the department was made public two weeks ago. Messages included statements about shooting black people and about dressing as Ku Klux Klan members for the daily police briefings. Outraged citizens and civil rights groups have called for the dismissal of the officers and the police chief.