Philadelphia Paramedic Marcell Salters is in deep, deep trouble after a bizarre and offensive Instagram post.
Here’s the post:
The scene depicted in the photo is from the music video for “Hands Up” by Maino. The caption which Salters added reads “Our real enemy… need 2 stop pointing guns at each other & at the ones that’s legally killing innocents”
This, clearly, was a terrible, terrible idea. Salters deleted the photo the day after it was posted, but the damage had already been done. What makes the post even more bizarre is that Salters, as a paramedic, regularly works with police; his paramedic HQ even shares a building with a West Philadelphia police precinct.
Salters took to Facebook to apologize for the post:
As you can imagine, the photo and caption were blasted by everyone. Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter said:
In the strongest possible terms, I condemn the behavior of a paramedic in the Philadelphia Fire Department who used social media to post a reprehensible message and photo that targeted police officers particularly at a time of emotional volatility and citizen protests in our nation in the wake of tragedies in Ferguson and New York City.
The post was also condemned by Police Union President John McNesby:
It’s despicable, and it defames police…It’s a brotherhood. We are out there doing the same work public safety and to do something like that is ridiculously stupid.
Meanwhile, the city firefighter’s union, of which Salters is a member, also attacked the post, but said that they would defend Salters if he loses his job over it. Said Joe Schulle, president of Fire Fighters Local 22:
“The paramedic involved is sorry. He realizes it was inappropriate. He issued an apology.
As I write this entry, Salters still has his job, but it’s very likely that this could change. Mayor Nutter has requested an investigation into the post. The Philadelphia Fire Department has a very stringent social media policy, which includes:
- Banning members from identifying themselves as firefighters or paramedics on social media.
- Banning members from using social media while on duty.
- Banning members from “making any comments inconsistent with the ethics of the department”
The Fire Department has already said that they believed that Salters violated the department’s social media policy.
This is a pretty heavy-duty policy, but this incident proved why it’s necessary. After all, paramedics work hand-in-hand with the community, as well as other members of law enforcement. This post would certainly make it harder for members of the community or police officers to trust Salters and his judgment. As such, Salters’ comments would make it very difficult for him to fulfill his duty as a paramedic.
The post, of course, was reprehensible. But at least one group got it right: The Philadelphia Fire Department. I think that banning members from identifying themselves as public safety employees is overkill, but it’s totally appropriate to ban social media use while on duty and to ban the use of certain types of posts. Kudos to Philly for getting that one right, and for putting themselves in an appropriate position to disipline or fire Salters.