For Mankato Police Officers, Social Media Missteps Can Bring Discipline

(Faribault, MN) – As residents in southern Minnesota and across the country watch to see what happens with a Rice County Sheriff’s Deputy who made a racially-charged comment on social media, a check with the Mankato Police finds local officers do have a policy they’re required to follow with their own private accounts.

Public Safety Director Todd Miller says if an officer (who mentions their affiliation with Mankato Police or which can be reasonably assumed) makes comments that reflect poorly on – or discredit the department, they can face discipline. Miller says such detrimental comments are not protected free speech.

Mankato police are also not allowed to post anything related to investigations or other private data that they’re privy to as part of their jobs. Fortunately, Miller says it’s been rare to have any such issues with social media comments by officers, with only one incident over the past seven years that he can recall.

In the case in Rice County, Sheriff’s Deputy Tom McBroom sent a Tweet implying that the girlfriend of a man killed by police in the Twin Cities is an out of control drug addict. McBroom’s now deleted post referred to Diamond Reynolds and her $800,000 financial settlement and said “She needs to come off County and State Aid now that she has some cash. It’ll be gone in 6 months on crack cocaine.”

That post has led many to call for the immediate firing of McBroom, saying his words demonstrate racial bias and that “he cannot be trusted to serve and protect ALL.”

(Sgt. Tom McBroom)

Rice County Sheriff Troy Dunn says McBroom’s comments “do not reflect the beliefs or opinions of the Rice County Sheriff’s Office and Rice County Administration.”

At this point, the Sheriff’s Office tells SMN that McBroom is “not scheduled to work anytime soon,” and they appreciate the public’s patience as they investigate the comments before making a final determination on his status.

McBroom is also a city council member in Elysian.

City administration in Elysian has reviewed McBroom’s racially-charged comments, but have not condemned them. In a statement, the city said comments from individual city council members on social media “do not necessarily” reflect the sentiments of the council or administration.

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