Officer Suspended, Accused Of Posting Racist Rant About Obama

8:32 PM, Dec 17, 2013   |    comments
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Richard Liebson, The (Westchester County, N.Y.) Journal News

PLEASANTVILLE - In another social media-driven debacle, a village police officer has been suspended and could be fired after he apparently posted a racist, obscenity-laced rant about President Obama on his Facebook page.

"The fact that he (Obama) is still alive bewilders me," Officer Peter Burns allegedly wrote in the post, which was obtained by The Journal News on Thursday. "Go die in a shallow grave you Muslim commie ..."

The post, apparently written on Dec. 11 on a Facebook profile page Burns operated under the name "Coon Trapper," contained a racial slur, made reference to "1st amendment NSA," and described Obama as "un-American."

After being shown an image of the vulgar diatribe late Monday afternoon, Pleasantville Police Chief Richard Love told the newspaper that he was unaware of the post, but would take immediate action. On Tuesday, Love announced that Burns has been relieved of his duties and placed on paid administrative leave.

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In a statement to The Journal News, Love said the Facebook post contained "despicable statements," which he said "are totally unacceptable and will not be tolerated."

Love's statement, which did not identify Burns by name, says that once an internal affairs investigation is complete, "the Police department will consider all legal options, including the possibility of commencing disciplinary proceedings against the Police Officer which could lead to his dismissal."

The incident is the latest to raise questions about standards for public servants and the balance between personal and private use of social media.

In 2009 three Harrison police officers were suspended and demoted after making lewd comments about then-Supervisor Joan Walsh and swapping racist jokes about Obama. Last year 17 New York City cops were suspended for posting racist and offensive comments on a Facebook page devoted to the city's 2011 West Indian Day Parade.

Those episodes, and similar incidents across the country, have prompted many police and government agencies to adopt social media policies for their employees.

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