A police officer in Elgin, Illinois with a history of disciplinary issues related to social media was fired after a Facebook post disparaging dead Missouri teenager Michael Brown, the Elgin Courier-News reported.
According to police records, Jason Lentz was fired in connection with an Aug. 15 post linking to a Fox News video of Brown allegedly stealing cigarillos from a Ferguson, Missouri store. Lentz reportedly wrote, “Hmmm … Innocent victim my ass. Did society a favor,” a reference to Officer Darren Wilson, who shot and killed Brown on Aug. 9. Lentz also failed to follow a request from his superior that he remove the post, instead shortening his comment to “Hmmm …”
Lentz also criticized Missouri Highway Patrol Capt. Ron Johnson, who was asked to take over security in Ferguson after clashes between local police and demonstrators, writing that Johnson “appears to be the enemy within” in a post showing Johnson flashing a salute for the Kappa Alpha Psi fraternity alongside a protester.
Deputy Police Chief Bill Wolf said in response to an open records request that Lentz, a 17-year veteran, had broken a department rule against “conduct that would undermine the credibility of the city or employees,” which included their personal social media sites.
“Our relationship with the community is based upon trust,” Chief Jeffrey Swoboda said in a separate statement. “When an officer violates this trust, action must be taken.”
In a November 2013 post, Lentz enthusiastically supported the idea of keeping children out of school on Veterans’ Day until Martin Luther King Jr. Day is removed as a school holiday, writing, “Hell Yeah!!! I think next year I’ll keep the kids home.”
Lentz was placed on administrative leave four times during his career in Elgin. The posts denigrating Brown and Johnson were part of a group of 10 that reportedly raised supervisors’ concerns. Among his suspensions was a one-day penalty in 2012 for refusing to appear in court as a witness, saying it conflicted with a vacation, and a two-day suspension this past May for a Facebook post accusing the department of “the fabrication of police calls for service.”