2 Metro police officers decommissioned over social media posts - WSMV News 4

2 Metro police officers decommissioned over social media posts

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Officer Christopher Taylor was decommissioned after he posted a Black Panthers picture as his Facebook profile picture. (WSMV) Officer Christopher Taylor was decommissioned after he posted a Black Panthers picture as his Facebook profile picture. (WSMV)
Officer Anthony Venable posted this on Facebook. (Source: Facebook) Officer Anthony Venable posted this on Facebook. (Source: Facebook)
NASHVILLE, TN (WSMV) -

How many times has this happened to you?

You're on Facebook and someone posts something that makes you very angry.

You immediately start typing a response and hit the icon to post it, and now it's out there.

End of story? Well, for two Metro Nashville police officers, it was just the beginning of social media hell.

In the case of Officer Christopher Taylor, who was decommissioned on Monday, it's not what he posted on Facebook but more about what he set as his profile photo. The image was a black and white photo of two armed Black Panther members.

The police department said Taylor, an 11-year veteran assigned to the West Precinct, was decommissioned.

Taylor acknowledged the picture, saying the image is associated with his strong historical interest. He said he regularly changes photos on his personal Facebook page.

"As police officers, by the nature of it, we are held to a higher standard," said Mark Woodfin, vice president of the Andrew Jackson Lodge #5 of the Fraternal Order of Police.

The organization, which represents 1,900 officers, regularly reminds its rank and file about social media interactions.

"As the FOP, we send reminders out that the MPD does have a policy on social media. We encourage officers to be mindful of things that they post," Woodfin said.

In the aftermath of the police shootings of two African-American men last week, it ignited protests nationwide, including Nashville. The shootings dominated the conversation on Facebook.

Officer Anthony Venable, an eight-year veteran and a rising star in the department, got in trouble for replying to a post by someone angry over the officer-involved shooting in Minnesota and why the officer shot the man four times.

In a comment, Venable said, "Yeah, I would have done five."

While Venable said he was being sarcastic, Chief Steve Anderson issued a statement saying the police department is treating this matter very seriously and took immediate action, regardless of what he claims the context was.

Woodfin says everyone has the freedom of speech, but officers are representatives of the people.

"We just want to make sure that anything we do, even online, is respectful," he said.

Both Taylor and Venable have been decommissioned while the department investigates.

Being decommissioned essentially strips the officer of their gun and badge and puts them on alternate status. The FOP says it's like a "time out" until the investigation is complete.

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