LANSING, MI — The director of the Michigan State Police will be docked five days of pay for violating the department’s social media policy with a controversial Facebook post that castigated NFL players who sit or kneel during the pregame national anthem, Gov. Rick Snyder announced Thursday.
Snyder, who has faced widespread calls for Col. Kriste Kibbey Etue’s resignation, also announced plans to review the culture of state government across all departments, examining inclusiveness, sensitivity training, implicit bias, use of social media and police recruitment.
Immediate reaction to Snyder’s announcement suggested the discipline and cultural improvement plan will not end the controversy.
In a news release, Snyder said: “Col. Etue posted something on social media that was inappropriate. She immediately apologized and has acted to demonstrate that apology, including facilitating meetings with various groups to hear concerns and to share the work the Michigan State Police does in cities and neighborhoods.”
Snyder said Etue, who had a 2016 salary of $155,000, will be expected to report to work and demonstrate leadership during the days she is not paid.
“The Colonel has served honorably as an enlisted trooper for 30 years, and I hope we can come together as Michiganders to move forward and find common ground, rather than rehash past mistakes,” Snyder said.
Etue’s sharing of the controversial Facebook meme came amid longstanding concerns over a lack of racial diversity on the MSP and one month after the fatal ATV crash in Detroit of a 15-year-old black youth shocked by a taser a trooper fired from a moving patrol car.
Kenneth Reed, spokesman for the Detroit Coalition Against Police Brutality, said the suspension “is not good enough.” Etue “should have been removed from her job, period,” Reed said.
Talk about a change in the culture of state government overall is merely window-dressing, Reed said, because the environment fostered by MSP leadership allowed the Aug. 26 crash death that resulted from the MSP taser shooting, he said.
“She’s part of that culture as well,” Reed said. “It’s unacceptable all the way around and people are getting tired. She gets a suspension … and she gets to walk away from this thing.”
At least one state lawmaker said she agreed with Reed, but Democratic Sen. Vincent Gregory, vice-chairman of the Legislative Black Caucus and a former Wayne County sheriff’s officer, said that while he wanted Etue to resign, it is time to “move forward and concentrate on things that will make the state a better place.”
Etue has twice apologized — once on the MSP Facebook page on Sept. 26 and again to reporters at the Capitol on Oct. 5 — for sharing a Facebook post that disparaged as “anti-American degenerates” NFL players who kneel or sit during the pregame national anthem to protest racism and police killings of unarmed black men.
But she said she has no plans to resign, as requested by the Legislative Black Caucus, the Detroit Coalition Against Police Brutality, the Detroit branch of the NAACP and other groups and lawmakers.
“Obviously, my comment on a personal Facebook post was very offensive and I am truly sorry,” Etue said after a meeting earlier this month with members of the Michigan Legislative Black Caucus, held in the governor’s ceremonial office in the Capitol. “That was never my intent.”
Snyder, in announcing the review of state government culture, said: “I have long advocated for more civility in politics and in life in general” and “we have an opportunity for Michigan to be a model in restoring civility and showing people how we can work together.”
He asked for a review of MSP trooper recruitment practices and standards for admission and called on the agency to “expedite community outreach efforts.”
From USA Today