Indian River County Deputy Suspended From SWAT Team Over Controversial Tiktok Videos, Investigation Concludes

INDIAN RIVER COUNTY — An Indian River County Sheriff’s Office deputy was suspended from the SWAT team until 2021 after an internal investigation determined he violated the agency’s social media policy.

Deputy Michael Dilks was investigated for three separate videos posted to his now-viral profile on the popular video app TikTok, according to an internal affairs report obtained by TCPalm.

The investigation was prompted by a Daily Mail report that stated Dilks and his wife, Heidi, lip-synced “hip hop tunes or to lines from black actors that use a variety of racists and sexist terms.”

“Yes, there is rough language. But everybody hears the same songs on the radio,” Dilks told Daily Mail. “Is it racist for a white kid to sing hip-hop songs with rough language?”

Dilks is seen wearing his official uniform in all three videos — a violation of the agency’s code of conduct — the investigation concluded.

The agency’s policy states “Sheriff’s Office personnel are prohibited from using any photographs or videos containing Indian River County Sheriff’s Office uniforms…in any way that compromises or undermines the integrity of the Sheriff’s Office,” according to the internal affairs report.

In one video, Dilks is lip-syncing while Heidi is in the back seat of his agency issued patrol vehicle, according to the report. A second video depicts Dilks simulating a traffic stop with his wife in the driver’s seat of her vehicle.

A third video shows Dilks claiming he is leaving the agency’s internal affairs building, though no building is shown in the background, according to investigators.

While Dilks’ videos prompted condemnation from Anthony J. Brown, president of NAACP’s Indian River County branch, the Sheriff’s Office said in its report the content is not “indicative of violation of agency policy regarding derogatory ethnic remarks.”

“The actions within the video, though satire, do not shine a positive light on the agency, therefore undermining its integrity,” the internal affairs report stated.

Dilks received a letter of counseling, a three-month suspension as a field training officer and a suspension from his role on the agency’s SWAT team for the remainder of 2020, the internal affairs report shows.

The violations cited in the suspension, however, stem from Dilks’ decision to wear his uniform on camera, and not racist remarks in the videos’ contents, according to the report.

“The content of the audio clips, though subjectively may be considered by some to be culturally insensitive, appear to be attempts of humor and do not rise to the level of ‘racist’ remarks,” wrote Lt. Justin Knott.

“The public response to the postings, in some instances, may be perceived as content which undermines the integrity of the Sheriff’s Office,” Knott continued.

When reached by phone Tuesday, Dilks declined to comment to TCPalm and redirected to the Sheriff’s Office spokesman Maj. Eric Flowers.

“Our agency has a system of progressive discipline,” Flowers said Tuesday evening. “Every case is unique. I believe that the Sheriff chose the discipline that was given according to our guidelines.”

Dilks, who has garnered a large following and currently has over 65,000 followers on TikTok, has since removed the videos of him in uniform. Heidi Dilks, who publishes video content with her husband, has amassed over 41,000 followers of her own.

In a video posted March 26, Dilks and his wife are seen walking through the wine aisle of a grocery store. Referring to the novel coronavirus pandemic as the “Chinese virus”, Dilk captioned the video:

“Chinese new year… Chinese virus… we are all quarantined who cares.”


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