FORT LAUDERDALE, FL – A police officer who used the Twitter social media network while on duty to make offensive comments about citizens and to criticize his supervisors has been fired.
“Police officers are not substitute parents. If you were not ready for the responsibility of being a parent u should’ve used protection,” Fort Lauderdale Police Officer Luis Pagan tweeted on Oct. 5, 2011. “So deal with your own [expletive deleted] kids and stop calling the police because you’re a [expletive deleted] up parent.”
Among his other Twitter activity was:
“They should tie all women’s tubes after they sign up for food stamps,” is a tweet he received and responded to.
Pagan was relieved of duty with pay on Jan. 31, while an investigation into his tweets was being conducted. He was notified today, March 24, that his status has been changed to suspension without pay for 20 days after which time his firing will take effect.
“You are being dismissed because of deficiencies in performance and/or conduct. On October 6, 2011, you posted a comment on the social media network Twitter that read, ‘I wonder how a supervisor feels when no one in his specialty unit respects his because he got there by ending good ppls careers and because he is a racist [expletive deleted],” wrote police chief Franklin C. Adderley in an internal memorandum dated March 23.
Pagan had been with the department since 2005 and earned $77,771.20 annually. He worked in the patrol division and had a good employment history. His termination is effective April 20.
In a statement he provided to investigators Pagan stated he was referring to the Hollywood Police Department or Puerto Rico. But according to the police chief’s memo, the investigation concluded it was directed at Sgt. Tim McCarthy, a supervisor who had just ordered Pagan to leave the scene of a planned drug operation.
“During this investigation, postings to your Twitter homepage showed a pattern of derogatory opinions about members of the public who contacted the police for help. Your opinions were sent out to everyone that followed your account and were accessible to anyone with internet access. Your disparaging comments about members of the public were counterproductive to the mission of the Fort Lauderdale Police Department,” the memo goes on the state.
Pagan could not be reached for comment, but his union, the Fraternal Order of Police, is vowing to fight the termination.
“It just happened so I haven’t had a chance to review the case, but I am confidant we will prevail in arbitration if it can’t be resolved,” union president Jack Lokiensky said.
Pagan had been under investigation over his tweets with porn stars and accounts of his encounters while on duty, as first reported by the South Florida Times in its Nov. 24 edition.
Pagan deleted his tweets and closed his Twitter account following the publication of that story, but not before the newspaper documented his activities.
At the time, Pagan had tweeted 3,576 times, had 84 followers on Twitter and was following 184 people.
Pagan came under scrutiny after tweeting on Oct 12: “Just caught a couple having sex in their car in a church parking lot. The car was shaking so much I thought it would flip.”
An avid diver, Pagan’s handle on Twitter was SoFlo_Diver. His tweets included exchanges with porn stars and links to nude photos of them. The messages were sometimes raunchy and laced with profanity.
Pagan was also critical of his employers, supervisors and people he encountered while on duty.
“Came to work just got hit with some (expletive deleted). U know what, I say (expletive deleted) the city,” he posted on Oct. 28. “Instead of trying to make a name for yourself trying to hurt good officers u should be worrying about what to do to lower Crime.”
The Fort Lauderdale police department implemented a social media policy for employees last July. While the policy does not prohibit the use of social media sites such as Twitter, MySpace and Facebook, it restricts what employees may communicate on those sites, even while not at work.
According to the policy, employees are not supposed to “utilize any city issued equipment to access personal social media sites, blogs, websites, or public forums while on duty, or while working off-duty details unless required in the performance of their duties.”
One section of the policy states: “The Department recognizes the role that social media plays in the personal lives of some Department personnel; however, the personal use of social media can have bearing on Departmental personnel in their official capacity.”
From The South Florida Times.