Snyder set to decide State Police chief’s punishment
Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder said Monday that he would decide this week what punishment State Police Director Kriste Kibbey Etue would receive for sharing a controversial Facebook post.
Snyder has resisted calls from civil rights groups and the Michigan Legislative Black Caucus to fire Etue, who has apologized for sharing a meme on her personal Facebook page calling pro football players “degenerates” and “millionaire ingrates who hate America” because they knelt during the National Anthem.
State police since have investigated whether Etue violated the department’s social media policy. Possible sanctions range from a written reprimand to a five-day suspension.
“Again, the colonel came out and apologized, and I appreciate that. We’re still reviewing the follow-up to that, and I’ll be coming with something this week,” Snyder said after an American Center for Mobility event in Ypsilanti.
“I don’t believe she should step down. All of us in our lives make mistakes. She was quite sincere in apologizing about it, and I view it as a learning opportunity. So let's all learn from it.”
Official state police policy allows troopers to express themselves on social media as private citizens unless their posts “impair working relationships, impede the performance of duties, impair discipline and harmony among co-workers, or negatively affect the public perception of the department.”
There is also the possibility that Etue ran afoul of another part of the social media policy, especially if the colonel’s Facebook shared post is brought up in a lawsuit or other legal proceeding.
“Postings that demonstrate a failure to exercise good judgment or a lack of personal accountability that are used to impeach a member or which discredits the department or another member in an official proceeding, or while the member is under oath, shall result in discipline,” according to the state police policy.
Etue met with the black caucus earlier this month, as did Snyder.
“Obviously, my comments on a personal Facebook post (were) very offensive, and I’m truly sorry, that was never my intent,” she told reporters after her meeting with the black caucus.
“I’m going to stay focused on working throughout the state to make Michigan a safer place, and I will work with everyone in this Legislature. Primarily we have some work to do with our minority populations.”
A group of Detroit ministers plan Monday to hold a march on State Police headquarters in Dimondale to protest Etue’s social media posting and the death of a 15-year-old all-terrain-vehicle driver who was allegedly shot with a Taser by a Michigan State Police trooper.
Trooper Mark Bessner has since resigned. Two other state cops involved in the incident with Damon Grimes of Detroit have been suspended. The Detroit Police Department also is investigating a state police sergeant who allegedly discarded evidence from the scene.
Among the ministers organizing the demonstration by the Change Agent Consortium are the Revs. W. J. Rideout III, Charles Williams II and David Alexander Bullock.
Republican Women’s Federation of Michigan President Linda Lee Tarver, an African-American, has called Etue’s post “unfortunate, not racist” and supported Etue’s decision to stay on the job. She has said critics’ misuse of the racist label “dilutes its potency when it truly occurs.”