It appears freedom of speech does not apply to police officers in Louisville, Kentucky.
Metro Corrections director Mark Bolton suspended a sergeant Wednesday because of a social media post he claimed, “was associated with blatant racial bias.”
In a picture posted Tuesday evening and first reported by local station WDRB News, Sgt. Derek Hale shared a picture of a white police officer next to a cruiser that said: “If we really wanted you dead all we’d have to do is stop patrolling your neighborhoods. And wait.”
The sergeant, who has since suspended his Facebook account, wrote “Ha… truth” above the post.
Director Bolton released a statement Wednesday announcing a suspension for the sergeant, citing the Metro Corrections Employee Code of Ethics and Conduct Policy :
“Every day the men and women of Metro Corrections work to strengthen race relations in this community. Sgt. Hale’s social media decision has hurt those good efforts. This nation is in the midst of an agitated and inflamed public reaction to police shootings of black men. A Metro Corrections Sergeant made a conscious decision to use social media to react to this national outrage. Sgt. Hale had an obligation to use social media in a way that does not bring discredit to Metro Corrections. I will use every measure to protect the integrity of Metro Corrections and my staff. I have taken direct action in response to what Sgt. Hale had done. Today I suspended Sgt. Hale and I have directed an expedited internal investigation into Sgt. Hale’s conduct.”
More than likely scared for his own job, Bolton made the decision to suspend the officer after meeting with civil rights advocates and other community members, the statement said. He and two other staffers met with community activist Christopher 2X (Louisville’s own Al Sharpton) Wednesday afternoon.
After the meeting, Christopher 2X spoke with the media and praised Bolton for the discussion and the statement. He said Bolton initiated the conversation with a phone call last night around midnight.
“The language (in the meeting) was pretty strong,” Christopher 2X said. “The actions moving forward and everything I was hearing was that this is going to be a top priority situation for the director and Metro Corrections as it relates to coming to some resolve.”
Sadiqa Reynolds, president and CEO of the Louisville Urban League, said earlier Wednesday that the officer’s attitude poses a ‘threat’ to the community and his colleagues. She also suggested he be terminated…and he was.
“The idea that this would even be in his private thoughts makes it clear that at this point he is not worthy of the uniform,” Reynolds said.
“This is the type of sentiment and rhetoric that has brought us to a tipping point in this country and many of us to our knees and to the streets,” Reynolds said.