The chief of police in a small town in Delaware near the state capital of Dover is investigating allegations that one of his patrol officers posted an anti-gay message on Facebook, according to a town official.
Theon Callender, the town administrator of Cheswold, Del., confirmed the investigation was under way in an Aug. 14 letter to the statewide LGBT advocacy group Equality Delaware.
Callender’s letter came three days after Equality Delaware sent its own letter to the town’s police chief, Christopher Workman; the town mayor, Robert Sine; and other town officials disclosing that it learned that Patrol Officer First Class Louis Simms had allegedly made the anti-LGBT post on Facebook under an account with his profile picture.
Although the post was made under the name Louis Judge, Equality Delaware officials have said they learned the post was made by Officer Simms through sources who know the officer.
The post in question states, “I stand with Trump!!! The flag on the right shoulder is [an American flag is shown], not [a rainbow flag is shown].”
A separate Facebook post obtained by Equality Delaware under the name Louis Judge shows a large photo of a police officer with an American flag patch on the right shoulder of the officer’s police uniform. Although the photo shows only half of the officer’s face, Equality Delaware says it learned through sources that the photo is of Officer Simms.
“We have seen the post, and we ask you to conduct an investigation, if one is necessary, to determine whether the post came from Officer Simms,” the Equality Delaware letter to the Cheswold town officials says.
“If it did, we ask that you permanently remove Officer Simms from the police force of the Town of Cheswold,” the letter says. “The Facebook post characterizes the LGBTQ community, through our trademark rainbow flag, as somehow incompatible with America, as though LGBTQ Americans aren’t Americans at all.”
The letter adds, “Simply stated, if the post is from Officer Simms, then his behavior shows not only poor judgment, but a disposition for discrimination against an entire community of people based solely on their sexual orientation or gender identity or expression. That is not a trait that can be tolerated in a position of public law enforcement, which demands the protection of all communities and equal and fair administration of justice.”
Mark Purpura, president of Equality Delaware Foundation, who co-signed the letter to the Cheswold officials, said the group has no objections to the Facebook postings expression of support for President Trump. He said the group’s objection is over the posting’s disparagement of LGBT people through the reference to the rainbow flag.
In his letter of response, town administrator Callender said the mayor, Town Council, and police chief of Cheswold “are aware of the recent controversial postings on social media allegedly attributed to Officer Simms.”
“Chief Workman is and has taken immediate steps to investigate the matter with great sensitivity toward those raising objections; toward the community at large, while also being sensitive to and maintaining the rights of the officer,” Callender said. “We expect to bring the investigation to a prompt conclusion and at that time we will announce our findings and course of action, as stipulated by the laws of Delaware,” he said.
“While this fair and orderly process occurs, please be assured that the Mayor, Town Council and Chief Workman share an attitude of inclusiveness, respect and compassion that reflects the prevailing view of our community,” he stated in the letter.
The initial Equality Delaware letter to the Cheswold officials raising the allegations against Officer Simms was jointly signed by Purpura and Equality Delaware President Lisa Goodman.
Purpura told the Blade that as of late Tuesday Cheswold officials had not informed the group that the pending investigation had been completed.