A Columbia Police Department officer violated social media policy and has been put in a position with limited public interaction, a city investigation concluded.
The officer was placed on paid leave on Jan. 3, and CPD began an investigation into Twitter posts made by the officer from May 2012 through September 2016.
Sources told ABC 17 News about specific posts from Lt. Brian Tate’s Twitter account that were published in the media, including a tweet that made derogatory comments about a homeless person wearing a trash bag. In another, he supposedly shamed woman for wearing a “sexy” Halloween costume.
Tate declined to comment in a response to an email from ABC 17 News.
“I will not be making any statements now or in the future [regarding] this matter,” Tate said in an email.
“I have determined that there were violations of department policies concerning social media and off-duty conduct which brought discredit to the department,” said Acting Police Chief Jill Schlude in a press release. “I also reviewed the officer’s disciplinary history as well as the time period over which the posts were made in reaching my determination as to the appropriate personnel action.”
Tate will work on more “administrative” projects, city spokesman Steve Sapp said, and would take a role with limited public contact.
“Things that, perhaps because of limited staffing and so forth, have simply not been able to be completed, such as applications for grants or things of that nature that are more administrative,” Sapp said about the potential work Tate will be doing.
The department is also reviewing a sampling of traffic tickets issued by the officer to determine if there is any disparate treatment which would warrant further investigation.
Schlude earlier this month ordered an audit of complaints handled by Internal Affairs while Tate was in charge of the unit to look for bias in Tate’s conduct. That audit is in progress, the news release said.
This month, the city’s Citizens Police Review Board also voted to recommend interim City Manager John Glascock ask for a Missouri State Highway Patrol investigation into Tate’s social media use. Glascock said this week that he had not received the board’s recommendation and that when he does he will have to check on the legality of such a review by the patrol.
Columbia police are required to undergo anti-bias training, officials noted in the news release.
“We must take responsibility for our mistakes and actions even though they are in the past and can’t be changed. However, we can learn from our mistakes, grow and move forward,” Glascock said in the release. “My expectation for all City staff, and especially of those in a leadership position, is to be a part of creating a community that’s inclusive of all citizens who have differing perspectives, identities and lived experiences. My hope is that this officer is on that path and will be a shining example of second chances.”
Darryl Smith, chair of the Citizens Police review Board, said he would not comment on Tate’s punishment.
“Since the cases Lt. Tate worked on while in charge of IA are under review, it would be premature for me or other Board members to comment as we may be called as witnesses or there may be cases brought on appeal before the Board as a result of that review,” Smith said.