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Last Friday, Pennsylvania’s Freeport VFD began seeing this screen shot of a Facebook comment by one of its members posted to unrelated stories on the department’s own Facebook page. The people posting the image pointed to the racial epithet I’ve covered up (the uncensored version remains posted multiple times in the comments of various posts). They wanted to know how someone with these views of those protesting a fatal police shooting in East Pittsburgh could be part of Freeport VFD.
The department reacted quickly. Within 10 minutes asking one of the first people to post about this to message them directly and responding directly to others (see above). And later that same day Freeport VFD posted this:
The views expressed in a member’s private post earlier today do not represent the views of the department, or it’s members. A full detailed investigation is being conducted at this time. Thank You.
Two days later, on Sunday, Freeport VFD posted the following message:
The trustees and officers of Freeport VFD after deliberating have suspended Christopher Negley indefinitely until the…
One thing relevant to the story that should be noted is Christopher Negley’s Facebook page clearly identified himself as having a connection to Freeport VFD.
We should give credit to Freeport VFD for acting with speed in dealing with this ugly incident. By the time the story hit the news media on Tuesday the department had dealt with the problem and the chief had already addressed the incident at a public meeting of the borough council. Instead of getting defensive about the accusations or ignoring them, Freeport VFD acted swiftly and kept the public informed. Many other organizations could learn from this response.
I’m certain Freeport VFD’s response will not please everyone, but clearly and openly addressing a controversial issue in an effort to rapidly get past the reputation crisis will usually serve you well.
A Freeport volunteer firefighter has been suspended for using a racial slur on his Facebook page to describe people protesting the shooting death of Antwon Rose.
“The views expressed in a member’s private post earlier today do not represent the views of the department, or its members. A full detailed investigation is being conducted at this time.” department officials posted on their Facebook page.
Negley could not be reached for comment. He has been a member of the department for about two years.
In the post, the volunteer firefighter used a racial slur and suggested that those protesting had time to do so because they were unemployed.
“The trustees and officers of Freeport VFD after deliberating have suspended Christopher Negley indefinitely until the investigation can be completed. We would like to thank you for your patience and understanding in this matter,” the department said to the public on Saturday, according to Triblive.