WL police investigating officer's social media posts
Facebook posts reference 'Black Lives Matter" movement
The West Linn Police Department announced July 15 that Officer Tom Newberry has been placed on paid administrative leave while the department investigates a series of social media posts made in reference to the Black Lives Matter movement.
The posts, which were made on Newberrys Facebook account, stated Good luck with that in reference to another user urging Take them all out, while another read, When encountering such mobs remember, there are 3 pedals on your floor. Push the right one all the way down.
West Linn PD lieutenant says they are looking into Facebook posts by an officer to see if they violate policy. pic.twitter.com/r01d3lmgKj— John Tierney (@jtierney6) July 14, 2016
In a phone interview with the Tidings, Police Chief Terry Timeus condemned the posts and said he was offended when he learned about them.
"That's not the views of the West Linn Police, it's not my personal views," Timeus said. "And I take offense to anybody inferring that people don't have the right to protest, and derogatory statements against any movement or race.
"We have to investigate. We don't know the intent, but at face value it doesn't look good."
Timeus said police will complete a "thorough and complete" investigation while Newberry is on administrative leave. Two supervisors have been placed in charge of the investigation, with Timeus and attorneys also overseeing the work. There is no timetable for when the investigation will be completed.
"As long as it takes for us to do it right," Timeus said. "I don't like this stuff hanging over us, but we have to make sure the officer's rights are upheld and follow the union contract. We have to give him due process; police officers have First Amendment protections just like any other citizen."
Since the rise of social media, Timeus said he has frequently reminded officers about the perils of sharing opinions in such a public sphere.
"Social media is probably the best and worst thing that's happened," he said. "You have people bullying, people hiding behind anonymity ... If you don't want it on the front page of the newspaper, or on the 5 p.m. news, you don't say it."
Timeus added that police have seen many residents reach out to thank the department for its response to the incident.
"We don't support that kind of conduct," Timeus said. "It's our job to protect people's right to protest if it's peaceful and following the law. We don't condone anyone a police officer, a doctor, an attorney making condescending remarks towards any race or religion. It's all unacceptable."