Police officer suspended after giving instructions on how to best run over protestors

A police officer in St. Paul, Minnesota has been suspended for making the following insane Facebook post:

St. Paul and Minneapolis (the twin cities) have seen a sharp rise in protest activity related to the Black Lives Matter movement (in fact, I’d previously written about it, when a Minneapolis Councilwoman “outed” those who had sent her critical correspondence as a result of her attendance at a Black Lives Matter protest).  That was the impetus for Sgt. Jeffrey Rothecker making the above post, which suggests that protesters be run over and then gives advise on how to best handle the aftermath of said murder attempt.

Wow.

Sgt. Rothecker was posting under a pseudonym, but the post was obviously traced back to him, and the results were predictable: The Sergeant was suspended.  In a statement, St. Paul Mayor Chris Coleman said:

“I am outraged and disgusted by the post and have directed the SPPD to investigate. That investigation is currently underway.

“Chief Smith and I are committed to building strong, trusting relationships with the communities we serve.

“There is no room in the Saint Paul Police Department for employees who threaten members of the public. If the allegation is true, we will take the strongest possible action allowed under law.

As always, using social media to incite violence is always an absolutely terrible thing.  I suspect that Sgt. Rothecker believed himself to be at least somewhat protected, since he was using a pseudonym.  It has been said before, and clearly, needs to be said again: There is no such thing as anonymity or privacy online.  Things you say can always be tracked back to you, and clearly, that is exactly what happened here.

British police department in trouble for tweeting multiple rape jokes

Yes, you did read that title correctly: A police department in England really is in trouble for tweeting a couple of rape jokes.

The background: This past Sunday, the Everton soccer team defeated Sunderland by a 6-2 margin…a blowout, in soccer terms.  A Twitter user than sent the following to the Merseyside Police Department.  Everton, which is located in Merseyside, then responded.  That exchange below:

Everton-rape-tweet1

As if that wasn’t bad enough, they then came back for seconds:

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Yeah, this went over poorly:

And, as you can imagine, Merseyside Police was forced to apologize:

What has since come out about this story is that one individual was responsible for the tweets, and that that individual “left the organization.” I didn’t think this needed to be said, but here goes: Never, ever, ever use the internet to make rape jokes.  Come to think of it, never ever EVER MAKE RAPE JOKES.

Tweets and Consequences

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SanJosePolice

San Jose police officer fired for series of tweets

A police officer in San Jose was fired after making a series of tweets related to the #BlackLivesMatter movement, as well as alluding to other cases of police violence.

Until his firing, officer Phillip White was a police officer in San Jose.  According to published reports, White was, “a well-regarded member of SJPD for over two decades and was heavily involved in youth outreach, particularly with anti-gang programs.”  The fact that he was well regarded, and involved in worthy programs, makes his firing even sadder, and his poor judgement even stranger.

The tweets in question?

Yeah, that’s definitely pretty bad.  The second tweet is particularly egregious; it’s as if Officer White was invited people to attack him.  The “can’t breathe” reference is to Eric Garner, who was killed by the NYPD while screaming, “I can’t breathe!”  Reports also note that these were not the first controversial tweets posted by Officer White, who had responded to others, complaining of excessive force used by the police.

Regardless of his intentions, the San Jose Police Department found that the tweets would have permanently effected White’s ability as a police officer, and as such, he was let go.  Officer White thus becomes the latest police officer to be fired as a result of his controversial social media use when it comes to #BlackLivesMatter and other related movements.

The lesson, as always, remains the same: Public officials, including paid, non-elected employees, have to uphold a higher standard, and must be very, very careful with what kind of content they put on social media.

Tweets and Consequences

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John Hanlin

Sheriff in Oregon shootings is “Sandy Hook Truther,” via Facebook

America has endured yet another mass shooting, this one at Umpqua Community College in Oregon.  The local county sheriff on the case is John Hanlin, and Sheriff Hanlin is making news for all the wrong reasons: his bizarre postings to Facebook.

Apparently, at at least one point in his life, Sheriff Hanlin was a “Sandy Hook truther”:

JohnHanlinSandyHook

For those of you who are fortunate enough to be unfamiliar with this concept, Sandy Hook “truthers” believe that the massacres at Sandy Hook were a staged, false-flag operation, executed by the government as part of an effort to crack down on constitutional rights – in this case, gun control.  Yeah.  Wow.

Sheriff Hanlin has since deleted the video – a little late for that, don’t you think?  The Sheriff was asked about the posting in a CNN interview, but responded, “I know what you’re referring to, but that’s not a conspiracy theory that I have.”

Note to all law enforcement officials – and really, all public officials: If you post crazy videos like this, the opinions in the video will be assumed to be your own.  That goes double when you add comments like, “…makes me wonder who we can trust anymore…” and “Watch, listen, and keep an open mind.”

This kind of content should never be shared, in such a positive manner, by any elected official, and the Sheriff shouldn’t be at all surprised that he is being questioned over this.  I will also add that I think it’s an appropriate question to ask.

Anthony Caruso

A career killer: Using social media to make fun of your boss while being racist!

This one was a fail on many different levels.

Lt. Anthony Caruso was a 23 year veteran of the Newark Police Department, pulling down a salary of $133,000.  That changed last week, when Lt. Caruso was fired for comments he made about Ras Baraka, the city’s African-American Mayor.

In the comments, another person made a Facebook post to Caruso’s wall with a picture of a gorilla and the comment “Lmafo….How’s your mayor?”  Caruso responded, “Exactly!!!!”  And that ended Caruso’s career.

According to the City, policies are in place which prohibit “employees from making any comment or opinion that defames the department or is derogatory in nature towards the City of Newark or any of its employees.”  Honestly, I suspect that Lt. Caruso wouldn’t have had a problem – at least not this bad of a problem – had he just insulted the Mayor.  However, doing so in a racism manner was such an error, on so many different levels, that his firing was clearly justified.  As always, this just proves that public employees are under a different microscope – and a different level of scrutiny – than the average person.

What is even more interesting – and depressing – about this scandal is that Caruso wasn’t the one who made the post.  He just said “Exactly!!!!” but clearly, this is enough to imply that he agreed with the racist post, thus putting him into the realm of unacceptable social media content.

Tweets and Consequences

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LACopKKK

Louisiana police officer fired for Facebook picture, featuring him in KKK uniform giving Nazi salute

That is, quite possibly, one of the most ridiculous headlines I’ve ever written.  I truly never thought a combination of words like that would ever be typed by me, but here we are.

The police officer in question is Raymond Mott, and he was fired for the picture above.  Just in case you can’t tell, that’s a picture of Mott, in a KKK uniform, giving the Nazi salute.  So.

By Mott’s own admission, that picture is of him, and he says he was standing at a rally against illegal immigration.  Mott was a police officer in Lake Arthur, Louisiana, until the picture appeared on Facebook.  Shortly afterwards, Mott was fired unanimously by the Lake Arthur Council.

However, as the news story notes, Mott said that he was attending a perfectly “legal” rally, and is apparently planning legal action against the town, saying that the process that the town went through to fire him was outside of the law.

Not knowing the details, I can’t speak to that, but I can tell you that any town with a social media policy would be smart enough to limit types of content which you can put on social media – including content which is flagrantly, unquestionably racist.  I’ve written previously about law enforcement officers who have done racist things online, and I have to say, this is the most blatant.  Oh, and it could be costly to the small Louisiana town, as a local District Attorney has now said that prosecutions in which Mott was involved in must now be reviewed for bias.

Cleveland Cop Frank Woyna Racist

Cleveland Police Officer accused of racism, via Twitter

Unfortunately, we have another entry in the area of law enforcement officers who use social media for inappropriate, horrendous reasons.

As noted by Cleveland.com, a recently promoted Sargent, Frank Woyma, has apparently sent out a series of incredibly racist and anti-Muslim tweets.  These include, but are not limited to:

ClevelandCop2jpg ClevelandCop1jpg

The Council of American-Islamic Relations, for obvious reasons, complained about the content of Sergant Woyma’s Twitter account, saying in a press release:

“While Sergeant Woyma is re-tweeting racist and anti-Muslim materials on a private account, his clearly bigoted views can only serve to cast a negative light on the Cleveland Division of Police and harm relations with the community he is supposed to serve and protect.”

Cleveland’s Police Department does have a social media policy which requires content be avoided, “that reasonably tend to diminish the esteem of the Division of Police or its personnel in the eyes of the public.”

I’m pretty sure turning back the “Muslim hoardes” would qualify there.

By the way, Wyoma’s Twitter account has since been deleted.

In terms of moving forward, no formal complaint has been filed against Woyma (yet), but the Department’s Office of Professional Standards is now investigating Woyma.

Unfortunately, regardless of the training or policy, as long as the world is made up of humans, this type of content will always be retweeted by the last person who should ever send it out.  It’s unfortunate, but it’s a reality of the human condition.

Tweets and Consequences

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