A Phoenix police sergeant was demoted Tuesday after he posted a photo on his Facebook account showing youths with guns posing with a bullet-shredded t-shirt with a picture of President Obama on it, according to a Yahoo News article.
Patrick Shearer, a 25-year veteran of the Peoria, AZ police department, has been dropped in rank to officer and also received a 2-week suspension for the post, which according to authorities ignited a U.S. Secret Service probe.
"We expect our employees to exercise sound judgment and not bring discredit upon our police department," Police Chief Roy Minter said.
Shearer has 10 days to appeal the decision and he has yet to comment regarding his punishment.
Further, the Secret Service is not pursuing any action against Shearer arising out of his Facebook post.
"The matter is closed from our perspective," said Secret Service spokesman Ed Donovan.
The investigation began late in January when the Secret Service established that it was looking into the photo of 7 youths, posing in the desert with guns. After the photo became public it was quickly removed from the social networking site.
Shearer told a local TV network that he took the picture and that he did not believe that it was "that big of a deal." He further stated that it was a "political statement," and if given the opportunity he would give his life for the president.
"It's not like they were going to go out and shoot the president," he said referring to the 7 youths portrayed in the picture.
Shearer was immediately assigned to desk duties and taken off of the streets pending the results of the department's internal investigation.
As a citizen of the United States Shearer, like all of us, is entitled to freely express his political beliefs. However, as a government employee charged to protect and serve the rest of us the photo became a subject of concern. Especially because the picture can be interpreted as a violent demonstration against the Commander-in-Chief.
As he has yet to comment it is unclear whether Shearer will appeal the decision as a violation of his constitutional right to free speech.
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