Until recently, Adam Harper was a police officer in Warrington, Georgia. That changed after this racist rant:
Not that the above statement would be acceptable under any circumstances, but the fact that Warrington is roughly 70% African American certainly didn’t help.
Naturally, citizens of Warrington took exception to the remarks. According to published stories, residents of Warrington were upset and accused Harper of “provoking [a] situation,” with others fearing that Harper could become a police officer elsewhere if the incident was not on his record. Some residents said that they felt threatened by Harper, with one African-American saying that he received eight tickets from him.
After the initial comments, Warrington police began an investgiation into Harper’s post, as well as comments made by a second officer. It was in the middle of that investigation that Harper made the decision to resign. In a written statement, Harper said: “My original point was to share my opinion on the Michael Brown shooting and to let fellow law enforcement officers know that it is okay to defend yourself if forced to do so.”
He then apologized for two specific items:
The first is my use of profane language on a social media outlet. The second thing I would like to apologize for is offending some people with my opinion.
Of course, what is missing is an apology for being blatantly racist, but that’s another issue all together.
Normally, I deal specifically with government officials and elected office holders. You could, however, make the argument that the consequences for a racist Facebook post by a police officer is even more serious than one by an elected official. Police officers are public employees, and as such, their comments on social media, like the rest of their behavior, are held to a higher standard. This is even more true in the aftermath of the Michael Brown shooting, and it is very easy to see why any community would be extra sensitive to racist remarks made by a police officer.
If there is any law enforcement officer reading this now, here’s the lesson: social media comments can cost you your career. You must exhibit extreme caution with what you say and how you say it.