The University of Missouri said Wednesday that its police department has a rigorous process when it comes to hiring police officers.
An MU Police Department officer was fired Tuesday for a photo he posted on Facebook before he had been hired by the university. Marcus Collins had been dressed up as black rapper Flavor Flav, which involved using blackface. MU checked social media during Collins’ hiring process, school spokesman Christian Basi said, but the photo didn’t turn up at that time.
Collins was hired in January 2018.
“Once we had been notified of the photo, we were able to verify that it was him,” Basi said.
Basi said when the university hires officers, it is typically a long process. Potential candidates go through the standard interview process, meeting with an oral review board and with the chief of MUPD.
“Candidates are also expected to potentially pass a voice stress analysis, a polygraph test,” Basi said. “They go through an extensive criminal background check. There also is a social media review and check.”
Basi said, nothing stuck out to the university when looking at Collins’ social media at the time he was hired. But Basi said Collins had posted the photo on Facebook before he had been hired.
“In this instance nothing was picked up or flagged upon and that can depend upon how far they go back to look,” he said.
A student told ABC 17 News on Wednesday questioned whether the social media check was rigorous enough.
“It can’t be that extensive if something like that was skipped over,” said Jashayla Pettigrew, a freshman at the university.
Pettigrew suggested the university should place more guidelines when it comes to what people look for when doing background checks.
“Regardless of how recent it was, he’s still supposed to be working to serve a university that has students of all ethnic groups,” she said.
Pettigrew said she believed MU made the right decision when it came to firing Collins.
“I feel like it sounds harsh because I know he still has a family and everything, but I feel like a grown man should know that that’s not something he should be doing,” she said.
Basi said the university did not have specific policies they cited when making the decision to fire Collins.
He said MU looked to see if “what we saw and what we had verified indicated to us that we had a significant issue. We did not feel like that that individual could continue being effective in that role and action needed to be taken.”
MU did not learn about the photo until Tuesday. Basi said no formal complaint was filed with the university, but he was “sure the exact same action would have been taken” had a complaint been filed.