As tensions between U.S. police departments and minority communities escalated over the last month, Officer Freddie Vincent’s Facebook posts grew increasingly controversial.
But Vincent’s post this week was the most incendiary, when he told his Facebook friends that fellow officers are “looking for a reason to kill a black man.”
Yep it has made world wide news now…A message to all my Afro America friends and family. When you are encountered by a white officer make sure that you are in a public place, and comply to all of their commands, because they are looking for a reason to kill a black man. And always keep your hands in the air, and never resist. I’m so tired of cops using these famous words ‘I was in fear of my life.’ I’m praying for Louisiana that could have been my nephew in B.R.
Vincent, an officer in Cincinnati since 1992, is being investigated for his comment and could be disciplined by the Cincinnati Police Department. He couldn’t immediately be reached for comment Friday morning.
Through a spokesman, Cincinnati Police Chief Eliot K. Isaac declined to be interviewed by The Washington Post, saying the department doesn’t give interviews on internal matters. But he released a statement, saying the post is under review:
“We are aware of a recent post to a commonly used social media site by one of our officers that refers to an interpretation of a law enforcement officer’s actions. The comments that were posted are under review as they relate to our Social Media procedure and our Rules and Regulations.”
Vincent’s post comes amid rising tensions between police departments and minorities following high-profile shootings of civilians and later retaliatory shootings in which police officers were targeted.
In consecutive days earlier this month, police fatally shot a black man outside a convenience store in Baton Rouge and killed another black man during a traffic stop in Falcon Heights, Minn. Both of the shootings were captured in graphic videos showing the encounters or the aftermath, and led to protests across the nation. The following day, five officers were killed in a Dallas shooting.
Earlier this week, three officers were shot and killed in Baton Rouge, just 10 days after five police officers were slain in Dallas. “There is no doubt whatsoever that these officers were intentionally targeted and assassinated,” Col. Michael Edmonson, superintendent of the Louisiana State Police, said at a news conference. “It was a calculated act.”
The tension has been palpable in police departments and communities across the nation.
In Cincinnati early Tuesday, someone fired several shots in front of the police department’s District Five office, according to Cincinnati’s ABC affiliate. No one was injured, and no one has been arrested or identified as a suspect, and it remains unclear if the shooting was a reaction to recent incidents.
In a statement, Cincinnati City Manager Harry Black tried to distance Vincent’s post from the feelings of the department or his city:
I was very disappointed. When we’re in certain positions of responsibility, particularly public safety, we have to adhere to a higher standard of personal conduct. I know the comments depicted on Facebook are not indicative of the men and women who make up police department, nor city government.I am confident CPD leaders will issue whatever disciplinary action is warranted following their investigation.I think anybody who is a member of your team has the responsibility to conduct him or herself in a way that depicts the team in the best light. Team members count on one another to do that.Social media empowers individuals, while at the same time requiring a high level of responsibility and requires a level of maturity. It’s why we have a social media policy.”
In his two decades as a police officer, Vincent has had an up-and-down history with his department, according to the Cincinnati Enquirer. In 1999, he was fired after pleading no contest to speeding on his motorcycle in Butler County and not having a driver’s license, the newspaper reported. He was re-instated after arbitrators reduced his discipline to a week-long suspension.
Vincent had previously been the subject of multiple disciplinary actions, including dishonesty, failure of good behavior and neglect of duty for six negligent auto accidents in a cruiser, the Enquirer reported. But the department lauded him as a hero in 2007, when he pushed another officer behind cover after a man pulled a gun on officers outside a nightclub.
Vincent’s fate with the department is unclear.
The Cincinnati Police Department has an extensive social media policy, which says officers can be disciplined for posts that make the CPD look bad.
Department personnel are free to express themselves as private citizens on social media sites to the degree that their speech does not impair working relationships in the Department for which confidentiality is important; does not impede the performance of duties, impair discipline and harmony among coworkers, or negatively affect the public perception of the Department.