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SMACSS, or Social Media Assisted Career Suicide Syndrome, can find its victims at all ranks in the field of public safety — even the chief. Killen, Alabama police Chief Bryan Hammond is now serving a 15-day suspension after getting into a recent Facebook conversation about the accusations against Republican U.S. Senate candidate in Alabama Roy Moore. Chief Hammond’s multiple comments included joking about sexual assault and saying that “silence is consent.”
Roy Moore is accused by multiple women who say Moore pursued relationships with them when they were teenagers and he was in his 30s. This includes one woman who told The Washington Post there was sexual contact between her and Moore when she was 14.
Chief Hammond’s Facebook posts were first reported by Ashley Remkus at AL.com. Hammond targeted Moore’s Democratic opponent Doug Jones with this comment:
There is also a photo with a handwritten message that mocks a high school yearbook inscription Beverly Young Nelson told reporters was from Moore. Nelson claims Moore tried to sexually assault her when she was just 16.
Here is what Hammond wrote:
Just a thought about all of this. It’s probably never a good time for anyone in public safety to joke about sexual assault — especially the police chief. And especially in the middle of an extremely controversial election campaign that has become focused on the issue of sexual assault against teenagers.
Chief Hammond is lucky to still have a job after this episode. There are a lot of places where a chief would be receiving a permanent suspension. And I am betting the Boy Scouts would like to have a word or two with Chief Hammond.
Hammond’s comments appear on a Facebook post that was made by a woman on his friend list. The post, which shares a news article about Nelson, includes the phrases “Fake News” and “Vote Roy Moore!” It also shows American flag and heart emojis. The post was deleted after AL.com contacted Hammond Friday.
Hammond said his comment that “silence is consent” has been misconstrued.
“It wasn’t in reference to the women being silent,” the chief said. He said his comment was aimed at a lack of outrage for allegations against Sen. Al Franken, D-Minn.
Here is a statement about the Facebook posts from Chief Bryan Hammond:
Last week a friend of mine shared a post on her private Facebook page that was political in nature. I commented on her post in agreement, and we continued the conversation with a few others commenting on the same post. During this conversation I used the term “silence is consent” in reference to people ignoring accusations from the opposing side. One of the others misunderstood the intent of that phrase, so I clarified what my intent was immediately after. After explaining that it was in reference to the shoe being on the other foot, I gave an example by producing a similar example using the other candidate in my example. I joked back and forth with my friend over the comment and we discussed the joke later during a phone conversation.
The following day a reporter contacted me to ask about the post. She advised that someone had taken a photo of the conversation and forwarded it to her. I explained to her that the two comments she was asking about were only portions taken from the conversation. I provided her with the other comments from the post which made it clear that the comments were intended as comedy. I also explained that the example was in no way true and I had never even met the candidate. Later that day the reporter decided to publish an article about the comments.
I am truly sorry for any of my comments that may have been offensive to anyone. I never meant for the comments to be taken seriously, they were meant only as a joke with a friend. I’ve learned from this experience to refrain from any discussion that could be offensive to anyone who might read it, even if the comment were not intended as a public post. The day after the comments were made my friend discovered that someone saw it as something other than a joke as we both intended and she decided to delete the entire post. Once again, I’m sorry for any comments I made that may have been offensive to anyone who read them.