What is written on a personal social media account is private, right? And it definitely doesn't reflect on our employer, correct? Well, as we've seen with teachers, this is not always the case. And now, recently there have been quite a few police officers facing disciplinary actions over questionable race-related social media posts — even though they were made on the officers' own personal social media accounts.
A Texas mother was deeply disturbed when a Kansas police officer posted the following comment on a photo of her 5-year-old daughter: "We’ll see how much her life matters soon.. Better be careful leaving your info open where she can be found :) hold her close tonight, it’ll be the last time." The Overland Park Police Department dealt with the situation immediately. They launched an investigation and, by that same afternoon, had determined that it was indeed the work of one of their officers — and they fired him pronto.
In Detroit, action was taken against a police detective who posted the following rant to his personal Facebook page: "For the first time in my nearly 17 years as a law enforcement officer I contemplated calling in to work in response to the outrageous act perpetrated against my brothers. It seems like the only response that will demonstrate our importance to society as a whole. The only racists here are the piece of [expletive] black Lives Matter terrorists and their supporters ..." The detective, who is white, was demoted to the position of patrol officer.
The same department also reassigned a black supervisor for an offensive post of his own, which was deemed misguided, homophobic and racist.
Meanwhile, in Nashville, a police officer was decommissioned (a nonpunitive action that temporarily relieves the officer from policing duties while an investigation is carried out). The action was taken after it was revealed his Facebook profile photo was an image of Black Panther organizers holding guns.
Another Nashville officer in the same department is also facing an investigation, saying during a Facebook conversation, "Yeah. I would have done 5," in reference to the number of shots fired in the officer-involved shooting of Philando Castile in Minnesota.
And in Memphis, two cops were fired for Snapchat posts that depicted a white man's hand holding a gun, which was pointed at an emoji of a black boy.
As many of these departments have said, these sorts of social media posts are not what they, as a whole, stand for, and they don't feel they reflect the professionalism the job demands both on and off duty. Our country is hurting right now, but that doesn't excuse these sorts of posts from anyone — especially officers of the law — ever.
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