City of Palmer places chief of police on administrative leave due to “inappropriate social media postings”

Published: Jun. 2, 2020 at 10:31 PM AKDT
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Palmer Police Chief Dwayne Shelton has been placed on administrative leave with pay after past social media postings resurfaced, the City of Palmer said in a Facebook post Tuesday night.

The City said it will review the Palmer Police Department’s diversity training practices in order to revise training for the entire department.

“The City of Palmer (City) rejects the ideas contained in the past inappropriate social media postings by Palmer Police Chief Shelton who is currently on administrative leave with pay. Instead the City recognizes and respects the diversity of our society and promotes the principles of tolerance and equality embedded in the Constitutional underpinnings of our Nation,” the City of Palmer said on its Facebook page.

The City of Palmer (City) rejects the ideas contained in the past inappropriate social media postings by Palmer Police...

Posted by CITY OF PALMER, ALASKA on Tuesday, June 2, 2020

Screenshots of Shelton’s Facebook posts, which are now hidden from public viewing, were posted by another Facebook user this week and have been shared over 200 times. In the screenshots of his posts, Shelton says things like, “BLM (Black Lives Matters) is a hate group plain and simple. White privilege is a rubbish notion that is used to excuse the lack of hard work and motivation on certain members of society.”

The content of the posts was brought to Palmer Mayor Edna DeVries’ attention yesterday before a 6 p.m. meeting. After receiving numerous emails about the posts, DeVries requested the city manager look into the incident. DeVries said she wants to know what kind of sensitivity training the PPD has undergone, which will be a part of the city review.

“I think that’s a large part of it is because of the tension that’s going on in the rest of the country,” DeVries said. “I personally feel that everybody, no matter what the color of their skin is or their lifestyle, that they are created in God’s image and we are to treat everyone with respect.”

DeVries said she does not know what the city manager has found in the investigation, but she expects this will be a part of the next city council meeting.

“We also know that Chief Shelton has freedom of speech and freedom of expression himself. We don’t take that lightly either and none of the comments were made since he’s become chief of police,” DeVries said while noting some of the comments were made while he was working at the department.

In screenshots of a post from February 2017, Shelton wrote, “We have men calling themselves female and females calling themselves men. People cannot even be honest about their gender anymore.”

In his bio on the PPD website, it says Shelton was hired by the department as an officer in 1999 and he was promoted to sergeant in 2012 where he was the department field training officer. He became chief of police in December of 2019.

Channel 2 reached out to Shelton but he said he is unable to comment at this time.

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