MARTINS FERRY, OH — A veteran of the Martins Ferry Police Department was fired Wednesday after city officials said he recently shared an “inappropriate” posting on Facebook about the Black Lives Matter movement.
Martins Ferry Mayor John Davies and City Police Chief John McFarland held a brief press conference on the front steps of the city building Wednesday afternoon and announced veteran officer Tim Starkey was relieved of his duties after he posted the image recently. Starkey has been a full-time officer with the department since July 2004.
“We as an administration deem it inappropriate. We have taken what we feel as the proper steps to resolve the issue,” Davies explained, while speaking about the social media post. “This administration will not in any way shape or form allow this kind of posting. … I think it is an unfortunate incident and it’s sad that it happened in our city.”
McFarland said they first learned about the post on Facebook late Tuesday night. He said he was “disappointed” after learning about the post.
“(Tuesday) night I spoke to the mayor, I spoke with the city law director. … We have come together and determined that the employee should be terminated from his position as a police officer with the city of Martins Ferry immediately,” McFarland said. “We’re going to go ahead and move forward. Those kind of posts and those kind of activities will not be tolerated. There’s no room in our city or our department for that. Hopefully we’ll never have any more dealings with it.”
McFarland said city officials have gathered additional information about other department officers commenting on the post and that information will be forwarded to the city’s law director for possible disciplinary action against them. He said at this point they have not determined if anyone else faces termination from their duties.
“I got a lot of phone calls I need to return. … If I continue to get anymore we will continue to address that with the administration and the law director and we’ll move forward with this,” McFarland said. “All of the officers mean a lot to me, all of the employees — it’s sad. We live in a world of a lot of hate right now and what was done doesn’t need to be done because it’s time for everyone to come together as one and we’re going to move forward. … We’re going to get through this and we’re going to be stronger and better tomorrow as we move forward.”
The mayor and police chief did not elaborate on what the post said. Several area residents who learned about or saw the social media post showed up at the press conference to listen to city officials comment on the matter. Martins Ferry resident Elizabeth Williams said she was extremely hurt when she learned about the post on Facebook.
“I’m disappointed, hurt, very hurt, that it came from one of our officers,” she commented.
From The Intelligencer