PRICE — The Price Police Department is conducting an internal investigation into one of its officers accused of making a racist post on Facebook.
The officer posted the message on a private Facebook account. But his comments were soon shared by many local residents and other Facebook users, some of whom said they know who the officer is.
The post states in part: "Ol Busta, once again demonstrated the prime example of a typical coward (N-word). BTW: I don't use the term much But when I do, it's equivalent to one satanic S.O.B. It's kinda just like sayin' 'Obama;' Same diff LOL."
Some on social media have reacted with anger.
"This is disgusting. It's not just about the language or a lack of discretion when posting to social media, but it's about the blatant racist attitude, prejudice and hate from police," one woman posted.
Some, however, say the officer has a right to free speech.
"Really get over it and leave people alone. This is the stupidest thing I've seen. Grow up people, it's a word not the end of the world," one woman posted. "Apparently if (you're) a cop you can't say anything or have a opinion."
Price Police Chief Kevin Drolc confirmed that his office has launched an internal investigation into the Facebook post.
"If the allegation is sustained, we'll take it very seriously. We don't condone that kind of language. It's against our policy. And that's not the kind of culture we foster here at Price City," he said.
The officer remained on regular duty as of Thursday. Drolc hoped to have the investigation completed by Friday.
While saying the investigation is a personnel matter and he doesn't expect a lot of information to be released, the chief noted, "The officer involved is a good officer, and he's not racist by any means."
When asked if there was concern that the officer's personal beliefs could interfere with his job as a police officer if he was the one who made the post, Drolc said, "That's all part of what we're trying to get into. There's nothing in his history that would ever indicate that that's an issue. The post was made on a personal Facebook page responding to a post by a friend and wasn't intended for wide distribution. But, you know, you can't guarantee that at all, of course, on Facebook or on the internet. But that is not acceptable here. That kind of post is not acceptable."
If the allegations are sustained, the officer could face disciplinary actions ranging from a letter of reprimand to termination.
There have been several recent incidents of police departments taking action against officers for comments on social media.
On Wednesday, an officer in Nashville was fired for commenting on an officer-involved shooting in Minnesota in 2016. In the online conversation, he wrote, “Yeah. I would have done five,” referring to the number of shots fired.
In September, a part-time police officer in Pennsylvania was fired for a racist social media post. The post contained a photo of the officer in uniform with the caption, "I’m the law today" followed by a racial slur.
In November, an Alabama police officer was fired for making racial comments regarding Michelle Obama.