It’s unclear when the photo was taken or posted to Facebook.
What is clear, however, is that Dildine is now out of a job.
On Wednesday, North Charleston Police Chief Eddie Driggers sent Dildine a letter detailing why the department was letting him go.
“On Tuesday … the City learned that you posted on Facebook a photograph in which you were wearing only a pair of boxer shorts emblazoned with the image of the Confederate flag,” Driggers wrote, according to the Post and Courier. “Your posting in this manner led to you being publicly identified as a North Charleston Police officer and associated both you and the Department with an image that symbolizes hate and oppression to a significant portion of the citizens we are sworn to serve.”
While the letter acknowledged that “the flag emblem may have different meanings to different people,” Driggers wrote that the photo had undermined Dildine’s “ability to improve trust and instill confidence when working with our citizens,” according to ABC, which also obtained a copy of the letter.
In particular, the photo would make it impossible for Dildine to handle criminal cases involving minorities “since defense counsel can reasonably be expected to use the photograph to call into question … your motivation in making the arrest.”
“In light of current events posting an inflammatory photograph in a way that permitted it to become widely distributed shows a lack of reason or judgment that is unacceptable,” the letter added, according to ABC.
Dildine’s Facebook post was particularly inflammatory because of where he works. North Charleston and neighboring Charleston have been at the center of several recent controversies revolving around race and the Confederate flag.
On April 4, Dildine’s colleague, North Charleston cop Michael Slager, was caught on camera fatally shooting African-American man Walter Scott in the back during a traffic stop.
When footage of the incident emerged a few days later, Driggers fired Slager shortly before Slager was arrested and charged with murder.
“It’s been a tragic day for many,” said Driggers, who was hired in 2012 to run an overwhelmingly white force policing a majority non-white city. “A tragic day for many.”
On June 17, the neighboring city of Charleston was the site of a horrific hate crime as Dylann Roof allegedly attacked a historic black church, killing nine.
Like Dildine, Roof had posted pictures of himself online posing with the Confederate flag. Unlike the cop, however, Roof also appeared in his photos wearing a gun.
In the wake of the mass shooting, South Carolina and other southern states moved to remove the Confederate flag from their statehouses and public monuments. Major retailers including Wal-Mart, Amazon and eBay have all announced that they will stop selling items bearing the banner.
Dildine, a 19-year veteran of the department, reportedly has 10 days to appeal his dismissal.
Correction: The original version of this story mentioned a recent church fire in North Charleston. That fire was actually in Charlotte, North Carolina.