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A Florida chapter of the Fraternal Order of Police defended a recruiting post calling for officers facing “spineless leadership” to relocate to the Sunshine State.
Brevard County F.O.P. President Bert Gamin acknowledged that a now-deleted Facebook post was shared informing police officers involved in recent controversial incidents in Buffalo, NY and Atlanta, GA, that “we are hiring in Florida.”
“Our citizens have a right to protest peacefully and legally. They do not have a right to block roadways, trespass on private property or disobey lawful commands from law enforcement officers,” Gamin told Florida Today in an email.
The June 6 post on the Brevard County F.O.P. Facebook page reached out to the Buffalo and Atlanta police officers following incidents that have made headlines amid protests over the death of George Floyd.
“Hey Buffalo 57… and Atlanta 6… we are hiring in Florida. Lower taxes, no spineless leadership, or dumb mayors rambling on at press conferences… Plus… we got your back! #lawandorderFlorida,” the post, which was deleted Monday, read.
Meanwhile In Brevard County, Florida… pic.twitter.com/zPfC3uXoyx
— Brandon Wolf (@bjoewolf) June 8, 2020
The suspension of two officers in Buffalo, after a widely seen video that showed a 75-year-old man being knocked to the ground, led to the resignation of 57 other officers in protest.
Six officers face criminal charges in Atlanta after video showed them yanking two college students out of their car after leaving a protest.
“The police had the legal authority in both cases,” Gamin told Florida Today.
“At the time the warnings were provided, the citizens were already breaking the law. Those citizens chose to disregard the warnings. It led directly to escalations and confrontations with the police,” he explained. “When we issue lawful commands/warnings, citizens have a responsibility to comply. The reality is failure to comply leads to escalation.”
He went on to address the “no-win situations” law enforcement faces everyday.
“As it specifically relates to the elderly gentleman in Buffalo, he and others were repeatedly warned by the police to leave the area. They disobeyed the orders, ‘he wrote.
“Those Buffalo officers, like many across this nation, are being placed in absolute no-win situations. That field force unit was ordered to clear the area. They followed the orders they were given and followed their training,” Gamin, a 28-year veteran of the Brevard County Sheriff’s Office, added.
The post set off a wave of backlash on social media against the non-profit organization that represents approximately 300,000 members in about 2,000 local “lodges.”
Brevard county needs to be investigated. https://t.co/Ldlq0Ju3g4
— Lyn (@lethal_lyn) June 8, 2020
Saw that Brevard County was trending and I got all excited thinking is was about SpaceX or manatees…
Nope. I’m ashamed. DO BETTER 321!
— Whitney Bowers (@whitneyebowers) June 8, 2020
Are you looking for a new job?
Are you willing to move?
Are you a racist and corrupt police officer?
— 🇨🇦🔥 Hot Medic 🔥 #BlackLivesMatter (@anthonycwalker) June 8, 2020
The president of the Brevard County lodge noted that other members have been frustrated.
“Members of my lodge and many who I work with express their frustrations to me daily,” Gamin said. “No one on the planet condones what happened to Mr. Floyd.”
But that did not seem to be the case in public reactions by those like Brevard County Sheriff Wayne Ivey, who reacted on Facebook condemning the post for being “extremely distasteful and insensitive to current important and critical issues that are occurring across our country.”
“To be clear, the ‘Brevard County F.O.P.’ page and organization has no official affiliation with the Brevard County Sheriff’s Office and was not authorized in any capacity by me or our agency to recruit or comment on our behalf!!” he wrote.
“The comments made by their members do not in any way represent the views of our agency and were made as individuals who were not acting in the capacity of a Law Enforcement Officer,” he added, noting that BCSO members are represented by “another association.”
The Cocoa Police Department is not affiliated with the Brevard County F.O.P. and the officers and employees of this agency are not represented by this group. We do not support or condone the recent statements made on social media by this group.
— CocoaPolice (@cocoapolice) June 8, 2020
The Palm Bay Police Department also pushed back.
“Whatever or whoever that represents has nothing to do with the city of Palm Bay or the Palm Bay PD,” spokesman Lt. Mike Smith said. “Certain people or organizations have opinions or agendas, and we all get lumped into that, but we definitely do things different here in Palm Bay, which is why we have such a strong relationship with our communities.”
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