Two officers employed by the Memphis Police Department have been suspended in the wake of the horrific Dallas police shootings that took the life of five police officers. The reason? The pair of Memphis police officers posted what the department’s director referred to as a “disgusting” and racist Snapchat image.
The image in question featured an unseen white person aiming a handgun at the emoji of a running African-American male, possibly even a child. In a week where racial tensions and police relations have reached a critical breaking point, the imagery was especially offensive.
The two Memphis Police Department officers were not just suspended, they were suspended without pay. According to a report by WKBW, the offensive and racist photograph was taken by one Memphis police officer, who was later suspended. The second officer was suspended for sharing the racist photograph on Twitter.
Reportedly, the photo that resulted in the suspension of two Memphis Police Department officers was taken the very night of the Dallas police shootings. The Dallas shootings, which were reportedly perpetuated by a lone African American shooter who was targeting police, were carried out in response to two recent police killings of African-American men that were caught on tape and went viral.
According to the Interim Memphis Police Department Director, the Snapchat image that resulted in the two suspensions, was “disgusting” and intolerable.
“The image is disgusting and will not be tolerated. We are certainly responsible for the decisions we make, and we are held to a higher standard.”
Director Mike Rallings and Memphis Police Department Policy indicate that the two suspended officers violated the rules of the department. Rules that include the data and information Memphis police officers share on personal websites and social media platforms.
“…employees must avoid any conduct which could compromise the integrity of the Department. This includes conduct related to materials posted on personal websites, social media, twitter, Facebook… etc.”
Fox 13 Memphis reports that the first Memphis Police Department officer to post the racist image likely did so to be funny, and the punishment he faces for his inappropriate joke could include termination from his position of trust. Director Rallings was publicly incredulous that one of his department’s own officers could be so tactless, especially in the wake of a national tragedy and strained race relations.
“The fact that it could have been a Memphis police officer just blew me away, and again we deal with these things.”
The second Memphis Police Department officer, who reportedly retweeted the offensive image out of “anger and disgust,” rather than in support of its content, faces disciplinary action as well. However, it’s not expected to be as severe and it is expected that he will not be terminated for retweeting the racist Snapchat.
The proper course of action in an instance of one officer seeing a social media post by a co-worker that violates department policy is for that post to be reported to superiors within the Memphis Police Department, not retweeted or shared.
“My job is not shot off with my first emotion. My job is to find out the facts, determine if there is violation and hold officer accountable.”
The deadly Dallas police shooting has been dubbed the deadliest day for American law enforcement since September 11, 2001. On that day, 72 police officers lost their lives responding to the terror attacks. Reportedly, the Dallas sniper, who has been identified as 25-year-old Micah Johnson, was compelled to carry out his deadly attack on police in response to a rash of incidents wherein African Americans have been shot and killed by police officers.
The Dallas sniping attack took place as officers responded to a massive Black Lives Matter protest in the city, which had been organized in response to the latest police killings of African-American suspects. Over the last week, dozens of anti-police and Black Lives Matter protests have been organized and carried out in the United States. Most have been non-violent, but some have resulted in violence, destruction and even deaths.
Both Memphis Police Department officers suspended over the racist Snapchat image will be off of the schedule without pay until their respective department hearings are held.
[Image by Rena Schild/Shutterstock]