Is it a crime to dislike or disagree with the President?
Peoria students, officer under scrutiny for Obama T-shirt photo
by Sonu Munshi and Kristena Hansen - Jan. 27, 2012 12:49 PM
The Republic | azcentral.com
Seven students who appeared in a photo on a Facebook page, some posing with guns and one holding up a bullet-riddled T-shirt depicting President Barack Obama's image, attend Centennial High School in Peoria.
Pat Shearer, a 25-year Peoria police sergeant, on whose Facebook page the photo was posted, remains on active duty, but he faces an internal administrative investigation.
The inquiry was triggered after the photo was brought to the attention of the U.S. Secret Service, which is looking into the matter.
Peoria police spokesman Jay Davies said that although the department has a social-media policy, it does not specify what the implications might be for someone who flouts them.
"The discipline for any policy violation is based on a wide variety of factors, including the employee's discipline history, the circumstances surrounding the violation, discipline handed down in prior similar cases, etcetera," Davies said.
The policy states that employees "shall not post, transmit, reproduce and/or disseminate information ... to the Internet or any other forum (public or private) that would tend to discredit or reflect unfavorably upon the department or any of the department's employees."
The photo, which was posted last Friday, has since been removed from Shearer's page. According to the New York Times, the photo was also posted on the Facebook page of one of the students.
Danielle Airey, spokeswoman for the Peoria Unified School District, said the district will continue to cooperate with the ongoing investigation.
"While the incident did not occur on our campus, it is an unfortunate event that happens to involve students and adults," Airey said. "It does not represent what we are as a school or district or community."
In an e-mailed statement Friday, Peoria spokesman Bo Larsen said the "city values a high standard of professional conduct and ethical behavior."
"These are expectations we have of all our employees," Larsen said.