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Moniteau County sheriff: Facebook posts led to ‘huge outcry’

The sheriff of Moniteau County said his office heard strong public reaction over social media posts that led to the firing of a jailer and a deputy.

Sheriff Tony Wheatley said Monday that jailer Dillon Davenport and Lt. Kevin Morse were fired effective immediately after he was made aware of the Facebook post Saturday.

” I found the items posted to be offensive and showing very poor (judgment), ” Wheatley wrote in the release. ” These posts have tarnished the reputation of the Moniteau County Sheriff’s Office and violated the public trust. ”

Wheatley did not describe the posts. He said law enforcement officers need to hold themselves to a ” higher standard than the general public … ”

Posts shared with ABC 17 News showed users with the names Kevin Morse and Dillon Davenport making light of down syndrome in Facebook posts last month.

Wheatley in the release also apologized to the families affected by the post. He also said he is evaluating policies and procedures and plans to make changes. In the release Wheatley said he post was apparently a joke between the employees and one of their mothers, but was ” in very poor taste and is not a joking matter. ”

Wheatley said he launched an investigation two days ago.

“This has caused a huge public outcry,” Wheatley said. “As an elected official, I have to take the steps that I feel necessary to protect the public and the trust that we have with our citizens. So, I thought it was the appropriate steps to take.”

ABC 17 News was unable to get in touch with Morse and Davenport.

The sheriff’s office’s social media policy warns employees from posting anything that would undermine the public trust and confidence in the sheriff’s office. Candidates for a job must also allow the sheriff’s office access to their accounts.

The firings are the latest in a string of social media incidents involving local law enforcement officers. Last month University of Missouri Police Department officer Marcus Collins was fired after a photo surfaced of him in blackface.

A Columbia Police Department officer, Lt. Brian Tate, was suspended in January after he was accused of derogatory social media posts. Tate was later put on duty that limited his interaction with the public.

ABC 17 News also reported on the questionable social media activity of former CPD chief Ken Burton before he resigned from office.

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