The president of a Fraternal Order of Police chapter in Florida was suspended from his position at a sheriff’s office after he sent a Facebook post encouraging cops accused of misconduct in other cities to apply for jobs in Florida.
In a news conference Tuesday, Brevard County Sheriff Wayne Ivey said Bert Gamin, a lieutenant at the agency and president of the Brevard County FOP, was suspended with pay while an internal investigation is conducted. Ivey called the posts “disgusting” and distanced his department from the FOP, a national organization representing about 330,000 law enforcement officers in more than 2,000 local lodges.
Gamin ignited an outcry over the weekend after posting several now-deleted messages on the Brevard County FOP Facebook page, including one that said: “Hey Buffalo 57 ... and Atlanta 6 ... we are hiring in Florida. Lower taxes, no spineless leadership or dumb mayors rambling on at press conferences ... Plus ... we got your back! #lawandorderFlorida.”
In Buffalo, New York, 57 members of the police department’s Emergency Response Team resigned from the unit last week in a show of solidarity with two officers who were suspended without pay after they were filmed shoving an unarmed 75-year-old protester to the pavement during demonstrations against police brutality sparked by the Minneapolis police killing of George Floyd. The man, who bled on the ground as officers marched past him, remained hospitalized Tuesday. (Undercutting its message of solidarity, the union reportedly told members of the response team that it would no longer pay for legal representation related to protests, according to two anonymous sources who spoke to Buffalo station WKBW.)
And in Atlanta, two officers were fired and face criminal charges after they violently pulled two Black college students from a car during protests last month. Four other officers were also charged and have been placed on desk duty pending further investigation.
Ivey said the local FOP chapter “does not represent our agency and certainly does not reflect our views.”
“What was put into that post was disgusting, despicable and, quite frankly, not in the consideration of all that has happened in our country right now,” Ivey said at Tuesday’s news conference. “I can’t even use the term disappointment because that does not qualify enough to say how I felt.”
Local law enforcement agencies, officials and lawmakers condemned the post. Florida state Rep. Randy Fine (R) called the comments “inflammatory, divisive and repugnant” and urged that Gamin be held accountable.
Gamin had initially defended his comments but apologized Monday, acknowledging that his post was “insensitive and wrong.”
Ivey said Gamin could not be suspended without pay because he hadn’t been charged with a crime. Further action will depend on the findings of an internal investigation into his conduct, he said.