Police Officers Demoted Over Satirical Animated Videos [Video]
A police sergeant and a deputy chief in Renton, Washington have been demoted for the creation of a satirical Xtranormal animated video (you know, like the ones in those Geico commercials) that mocked people they worked with. According to an 87-page report from the Renton Police Department, the former sergeant created an anonymous e-mail address to create and publish a video that essentially mocks an employee of the South Correctional Entity, which controls the regional jail, in part by depicting them as a clown. The demoted deputy chief reportedly advised the sergeant to post the video from a library to avoid being caught.
The video includes numerous inflammatory quotes about the correctional facility organization and its employees including, "[South Correctional Entity] is as about as good an idea as wearing chaps and being bent over a Harley Davidson by a butt pirate. You should know something about that."From Komo News:
The sergeant claimed the video should be protected by his First Amendment rights. The department disagreed, demoted him to officer and reassigned him. The deputy chief was demoted to sergeant.
Another sergeant and acting sergeant received reprimands for not sharing their knowledge of the video.
In addition to the offending cartoon, the Police Department was investigating a similar video as part of a cyberstalking case. The department's since dropped the criminal investigation, but is continuing an internal investigation over several other potentially related animated videos.
It's unknown how the demoted police will respond to the department's ruling. Public employees like police have the right to publicly criticize employers depending on whether their speech is a matter of public concern, but that's weighed against any injury said speech might have on their employer. Considering how boring these xtranormal animations are, however, I'm happy to leave these determinations to qualified legal types.
You can watch some of the offending animations below: