Shortly after I posted my column yesterday about firefighters getting into trouble with cameras and computers comes word of two more firefighters who have lost their jobs (actually a TV station did the story a week ago, but the paper just reported it). With what police say is a repeat performance by this duo, I am guessing something more than the social media ethics training I suggested may be in order. Read on.
The incident in question occured on October 1 when a High Springs, Florida firefighter woke up from a nap. Apparently he hadn't secured his personal computer. The firefighter discovered an image on the laptop that disturbed him. The picture showed another firefighter exposing himself while standing over the sleeping firefighter.
Two firefighters involved in the incident have resigned and the victim was nearly tasered as police tried to restrain him during the investigation.
Police told reporter Ronald Dupont Jr. at the North Florida Herald that the two firefighters who resigned were involved in a similar incident earlier this year. In that case, while a firefighter was wrestled to the ground one of the pair exposed himself and the other shot video. WCJB-TV reports the firefighters say they were inspired in their antics by the 2005 comedy "Waiting".
According to a High Springs police investigation, firefighter Michael Steele, 28, admitted to standing over the sleeping man and exposing himself while firefighter Kyle Lewis, 26, took a photo with a camera phone.
Lewis told police a similar story and said he uploaded the photo to the victim's computer using a USB cable.
In his interview with police, Lewis said the victim actually pulled a similar prank on Steele months ago, waking Steele up in the process. Steele told police he never remembers being awakened by such a prank and only learned of the alleged prank the next day.
When the victim learned of the accusation against him during his interview with police on Oct. 1, he got angry and left the interview room, looking for Steele and Lewis, according to a report by High Springs Police Officer J.C. Shiller.
Shiller said he tried to stop the victim but the victim actually "carried" the officer through the lobby and out the front door.
"Once outside the front door, I was able to put (the victim) on the ground and prevented him from going after FF Steele and FF Lewis," Shiller wrote in his report. "(Police) Chief (Jim) Troiano and Fire Chief (Verne) Riggall came out and held (the victim) to the ground.
"Chief Troiano then advised me to get my Taser out, in which I did and had pointing to (the victim)," Shiller continued to write in his report. "(The victim) then calmed down, and I re-holstered my Taser."