RALEIGH, N.C. – Random Instagram thoughts have landed a veteran trooper with the N.C. State Highway Patrol on administrative duty. The agency will investigate his social media comments about President Donald Trump, police use of force, African-Americans, the media and more.
“The State Highway Patrol is aware of the incident in question and is conducting an internal investigation,” Sgt. Michael Baker said in an email to The News & Observer on Thursday afternoon.
Sgt. Jonathan K. Whitley, a member of the Highway Patrol since 1996, apparently fell under scrutiny after a lengthy post on Instagram by the user “jkwhitley2608.”
The writer of the post said he wanted to share “just a few random thoughts” before going to bed.
Yet, just like a Baltimore firefighter recently found himself in trouble after posting his innermost feelings on Facebook, the trooper has joined him as the subject of an internal review.
The post said he would “never vote for a Democrat for any reason for any office” and that he hates the public education system and the “indoctrination centers known as college campuses.”
The post also says that 99 percent of the media are “anti-American liberal supporting communist, and I can’t stand them.”
He didn’t own a slave, the post says, adding, “I owe you nothing. Including your HUD housing and EBT card.”
HUD is a reference to the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, which provides affordable housing options for low-income families. EBT is a reference to welfare benefits.
As for police beatings, the post said, “If you act like a fool toward police and you tote a beat down, don’t get on TV in hopes of getting your check. The police already gave you what you deserved.”
This kind of foolhardy comment makes it extremely difficult for a police agency to retain such a person as the caustic remark is sure to be used against the officer and department in future proceedings. While the First Amendment protects free speech, it does not require your employer to tolerate words that conflict with duty. Moreover, a person’s inner thoughts eventually manifest in outward actions. So these comments may serve as a red flag.
The post said he hates “weak leaders” and he has the utmost respect for the military and American flag. Conversely, according to the post, he feels “the exact opposite for the NFL.”
“I despise whiners,” the post said. “Do the job you are paid to do.”
“President Trump will not be impeached, much less removed from office,” the post continued. “I can’t wait to vote for him again.”
CAUTION: Law Enforcement Today encourages LEOs to measure their response/public comments to this article. It is not worth placing your employment in jeopardy with a knee-jerk reaction.