Pa. CO suspended over Facebook comment about George Floyd protests

The officer's comment came amid a discussion about how children were among those tear gassed at the protests


By Christine Vendel
The Patriot-News

DAUPHIN COUNTY, Pa. — A Dauphin County prison guard has been suspended after allegedly posting remarks about protests in Harrisburg Saturday night “advocating for excessive force” at the rally, according to county officials.

County Commissioner George Hartwick said they launched a full investigation after the corrections officer posted the comment on PennLive’s Facebook page featuring a photo about the protests.

Harrisburg Black Lives Matter Demonstration at the Capitol to protest the murder of George Floyd. (Photo/Sean Simmers of PennLive.com via TNS)
Harrisburg Black Lives Matter Demonstration at the Capitol to protest the murder of George Floyd. (Photo/Sean Simmers of PennLive.com via TNS)

The officer’s comment came amid a discussion about how children reportedly were among those “tear gassed” at the protests. The officer’s comment said: “Guess they brought kids hoping the police wouldn’t take appropriate action,” the officer wrote. “Spray them all!!!! Better yet, start eliminating a few!”

Hartwick said the officer was immediately suspended, pending the outcome of the investigation. No details about the officer, including name, age or years of service, were released.

“Let me be clear,” Hartwick wrote on his Facebook page announcing the suspension, “these comments are unacceptable and will not be tolerated.”

Hartwick cited Corrections Director Brian Clark: this inflammatory social media post and similar language will not be tolerated and is in violation of prison and county policy and core values.

Hartwick’s announcement drew online praise from many residents but also concerns that the officer could return to work after a short suspension.

Community activist Kia Hansard addressed calls for his firing by explaining he is entitled to due process.

“All COs are members of a union and are afforded due process as a result,” she wrote. “As a member of the Community Advisory Board for Dauphin County Prison, I will definitely be following up on this matter and have no problem with keeping members of this community apprised of the situation.”

The officer’s comment violated PennLive’s social media policy, according to Burke Noel, who leads the newsroom.

“We removed the post and will ban this user," Noel said.

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©2020 The Patriot-News (Harrisburg, Pa.)

McClatchy-Tribune News Service

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