Florida Police Union Chapter President Tells Cops Accused of Misconduct — 'We Are Hiring'
A police union chapter president in Florida is apologizing after encouraging cops accused of misconduct in other states to apply for positions in his county.
Bert Gamin, the president of the Brevard County chapter of the Fraternal Order of Police, specifically called on officers from Buffalo, New York, and Atlanta, Georgia, who were accused of being violent with protesters over the weekend, writing on social media, "we are hiring in Florida."
After defending the posts initially, Gamin apologized on Monday, according to Florida Today, calling the posts "in poor taste."
"This weekend, I made a posting on social media which was in poor taste and did not reflect the sentiment that I was trying to convey, nor that of the FOP," Gamin said in an apology, according to Florida Today. "For that, I humbly apologize to all of you."
"Hey Buffalo... and Atlanta 6... we are hiring in Florida," a since-deleted Facebook post from the Brevard County F.O.P. said on Saturday, according to a screengrab from CNN. "Lower taxes, no spineless leadership, or dumb mayors rambling on at press conferences... Plus... we got your back!"
"Minneapolis officers... we WILL NOT disband our LE agencies or give in... we are hiring in Florida," another since-deleted post captured by CNN read. "Lower taxes, no spineless leadership, conflicting orders or dumb mayors rambling on a press conference... Plus... we got your back!"
Two officers from the Buffalo Police Department were suspended after being seen on video shoving a 75-year-old man to the ground during protests against police brutality and systemic racism.
The two suspended officers, Aaron Torglaski and Robert McCabe were charged with second-degree assault on Saturday, ABC News reported.
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Also on Saturday, all 57 members of the Buffalo Police Department’s Emergency Response Team stepped down from the tactical unit — but did not quit the police department entirely, The Buffalo News reported.
Last week, six Atlanta police officers were charged with using excessive force on two black students at another protest.
Minneapolis City Council members announced over the weekend that they plan to vote to "dismantle" the police department in favor of a "transformative new model of public safety," CBS News reported Monday.
RELATED VIDEO: 2 Buffalo Police Officers Suspended After Pushing 75-Year-Old Man to Ground During Protests
"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.
Gamin also defended the officers in Buffalo and Atlanta.
"The police had the legal authority in both cases," he added to 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. When we issue lawful commands/warnings, citizens have a responsibility to comply. The reality is failure to comply leads to escalation."
"As it specifically relates to the elderly gentleman in Buffalo, he and others were repeatedly warned by the police to leave the area," he continued. "They disobeyed the orders."
"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."
"Members of my lodge and many who I work with express their frustrations to me daily. No one on the planet condones what happened to Mr. Floyd," Gamin reportedly added to the outlet, referring to George Floyd, who was killed at the hands of Minneapolis Police officers last month.
The Brevard County FOP did not immediately respond to PEOPLE's request for comment.
Brevard County Sheriff Wayne Ivey issued a statement on Monday condemning Gamin's posts.
"Earlier today it came to my attention that an organization identified as 'Brevard County F.O.P.' had posted a comment on Facebook that was extremely distasteful and insensitive to current important and critical issues that are occurring across our country," Ivey said.
"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!!" the statement said. "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!!"
"Our Sheriff’s Office members are represented by another association who also had no knowledge or association with the post as collectively, we work together to run one of the most professional agencies in the country!!"
"While I absolutely understand everyone’s concerns regarding this post and its inflammatory nature, please understand and accept that our agency had nothing to do with its occurrence and does not condone its content in any way!! As always thank you for your amazing support of our agency and for all you do to help us keep Brevard County Safe!!"
To help combat systemic racism, consider learning from or donating to these organizations:
- Campaign Zero (joincampaignzero.org) which works to end police brutality in America through research-proven strategies.
- ColorofChange.org works to make government more responsive to racial disparities.
- National Cares Mentoring Movement (caresmentoring.org) provides social and academic support to help black youth succeed in college and beyond.