Asst. Police Chief Fired For Social Media Post About Nancy Pelosi
Geraldine, AL – The Geraldine Town Council voted 5-to-1 on Tuesday night to fire Geraldine Assistant Police Chief Jeff Buckles for an inappropriate Facebook post about Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi after she tore up President Donald Trump’s State of the Union address.
“Pelosi just ripped up his speech. Road Side bomb on her way home and any other Dumbocrats,” Chief Buckles posted on Feb. 4 after Pelosi ripped the speech to pieces behind a smiling President Trump, according to WHNT.
Although the assistant chief posted the missive to his personal Facebook page, he wasn’t using any privacy settings and the post was visible to the general public.
The post went viral within hours and the police department and the mayor were bombarded with complaints, WHNT reported.
Geraldine Mayor Chuck Ables put Chief Buckles on paid administrative leave while he was investigated for making a “terroristic” threat against Pelosi, WAAY reported.
The mayor said he’d been getting calls from all across the United States.
"I've had calls at least identifying themselves, at least ten states," Ables told WAAY.
A due process hearing was held on Feb. 25 and numerous community members showed up to show their support for Chief Buckles.
Geraldine resident Amanda McCulloch said she was there to support the assistant chief and didn’t think he should lose his job, WAAY reported.
McCulloch said she didn’t believe Chief Buckles’ post was really a threat against Pelosi, but rather was just him blowing off steam online.
"I feel safe here because I know we got the best two cops running this place that we could have," she told WAAY.
McCulloch said she was there in person because "because I care, I really care. It's not about Trump or Pelosi, it's about Jeff himself."
"He's a great person, he has a great family, and this needs to go away,” she told WAAY.
But at the town council meeting on March 3, the elected officials voted to terminate Chief Buckles, according to The Sand Mountain Reporter.
“It was a lot to consider,” the mayor said afterward. “Everybody in there knows that Officer Buckles has done a great job. We just had to make a decision to uphold the policies that we have here. We had some policies that were clearly violated, and he admitted to that.”
The mayor said an independent, third-party adjudicator had been brought in to make a recommendation solely based on the incident involving the Facebook post, without taking Chief Buckles’ professional history into account, The Sand Mountain Reporter reported.
“It’s tough,” Ables said. “I consider him a friend. He’s done a great job. He’s done everything we’ve asked him to, worked with kids… But he made a mistake and violated policy, and we had to deal with it.”
Concerned town resident Gerald Tillman argued with the mayor at Tuesday night’s meeting and asked why the public hadn’t been allowed to share their thoughts with the town council, The Sand Mountain Reporter reported.
But the mayor said the town council had no obligation to allow public comment and warned Tillman to return to his seat or leave the meeting.
“We had to do our job,” Ables said. “When I became mayor, I took an oath to support the constitution of the United States, the constitution of Alabama and the policies of the Town of Geraldine. That’s what I’m going to do, tough as it might be.”
He said the former assistant chief’s comments could have potentially been in violation of federal statutes against threatening a public official, according to The Sand Mountain Reporter.
Buckles said he might appeal the decision after the town council announced his termination.
He said he was caught off guard by the town council’s decision and had only learned about the meeting the night beforehand, The Sand Mountain Reporter reported.
Buckles said his attorney was in Jamaica and unable to attend the meeting with him.
The newly-former assistant police chief was only two-and-a-half years away from retirement, The Sand Mountain Reporter reported.