Social media postings subject of PAPD investigation

Published 4:04 pm Friday, July 24, 2015

Port Arthur Police Chief Mark Blanton has called for an investigation surrounding social media postings by three of the police department’s officers and a civil employee.
The comments, made on a closed Facebook group site, have some in the community concerned the postings are racially biased and made in a discriminatory manner.
If nothing else, Blanton said the postings have put “an unnecessary spotlight on the department.”
A packet dropped off anonymously at The News office included copies of social media posts made by PAPD Sergeant Jeremy Lloyd, Detective Tommy Savoie, Officer Joe Paul, and Brenda Swan, who works in the evidence room.
In his Facebook post, Savoie describes First Lady Michelle Obama as un-American, and uses the “B” word to describe her character.
In another post, Lloyd describes activist Al Sharpton a race baiter, and another name not suitable for print.
Officer Joe Paul weighed in on the removal of Confederate Flag issue with profanity in a rant that went on to question whether the American Flag was next to be taken down.
Another post, by Swan, shows a woman wearing what appears to be a black curly wig, with the comment, “I just wanted to say…I identify myself as black.”
Blanton said an investigation has been launched into the postings, and those involved could be facing disciplinary actions depending on the findings.
“I think they are in appropriate. However, until the investigation is complete, we will wait to see if there is information that makes me believe there is a racial motive,” Blanton said.
In the meantime, Blanton is creating a social media policy which should be complete by the early part of next week, he said.
At present, the department does not have a dedicated social media policy, but does require officers and employees to follow a code of conduct, which will be reviewed during the course of the investigation.
“There is no tolerance for racial discrimination at this police department,” Blanton said, adding that anyone who knows him knows that he won’t tolerate  racial bias.
Blanton said all six of his grandchildren are bi-racial, and his wife is Hispanic.
Two of the postings were discovered by PAPD Major Raymond Clark, who counseled his employees. The other two postings, Blanton said, the department was not aware of until they were sent to media.
Blanton said he has been following some of the comments people in the community are making about the postings, finding that the community’s opinions regarding the issue are mixed.
“I think in this day and age it is wise for everyone to be very mindful of what they are posting because it could be construed as being insensitive by others. I don’t care what the topic is, I think everybody should be mindful,” Blanton said.
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