Detroit cop suspended after social media post

George Hunter
The Detroit News

A rookie Detroit police officer has been suspended after allegedly posting a Snapchat photo of himself in uniform on Saturday with the caption "another night to Rangle (sic) up these zoo animals."

The officer, Sean Bostwick, is on probation. He has only been out of the police academy for two months, said Detroit police Chief James Craig.

"I suspended him on the spot as soon as I saw that post," Craig said. "My phone started blowing up about 5:30 (p.m. Saturday). This is absolutely unacceptable." 

Craig said he has ordered Bostwick to appear for a hearing "first thing (Monday) morning. I'm holding the hearing myself."

"This is highly disturbing," Craig said. "I've been getting phone calls from black officers, white officers, male and female officers — and they're all disgusted. This isn't reflective of the officers who work in this department." 

Craig said the post has been taken down.

Kenneth Reed, director of the Detroit Coalition Against Police Brutality, called for Bostwick's firing.

"Rookie Detroit cop Sean Bostwick should be subject to immediate firing. His racist, offensive comments calling Detroit citizens 'zoo animals' is beyond the pale and hearkens to the darkest days of our nation's history, when African Americans were widely viewed — and treated — this way. If you call someone an animal, you will treat them like one. That is unacceptable for one who is called to protect and serve.

"The Coalition has said for many years that there exists in law enforcement a corrosive mentality and culture that perpetuates and supports these attitudes and behaviors. We call on Chief James Craig, who has already suspended Bostwick, to fire him. The Department must clearly convey a "no tolerance" policy when it comes to attitudes and behaviors that mitigate against the citizens of Detroit. Detroit's citizens deserve no less."

Through the years, officers in Detroit and across Michigan have gotten into trouble for social media activity. Last year, Michigan State Police Col. Kristie Kibbey Etue was suspended for five days after sharing a meme critical of NFL players who kneel during the National Anthem.

Willie Burton, a member of the Detroit Board of Police Commissioners, the civilian body that has oversight of the police department, said the board may need to revisit the social media policy.

"It's clear we have too many officers over the years abusing the DPD social media policy," he said. "Maybe we the Board of Police Commissioners should take a closer look at the current policy to make some immediate changes that will allow officers to be in compliance.  With the city of Detroit being ranked as the most violent city in America just last year, it s become problematic when our focus shifts from patrolling  the city to monitoring officers social media."
(313) 222-2134
Twitter: @GeorgeHunter_DN