For the second time in less than a year, a DeKalb County police officer is facing complaints and department scrutiny over content shared on his personal Facebook.
Mentone Mayor Rob Hammond said a citizen complaint was received on June 28 against one of the town’s police officers, who he identified as Ross Greenwood. The complaint alleged that he “posted racist comments on his personal Facebook page.”
Mentone Police Chief Gene McKee confirmed an officer had been put on administrative leave pending the outcome of an investigation and due process hearing.
“On the morning of Monday, June 29, Chief McKee met with town attorney Pat Tate to discuss the results of his investigation. It is the Town’s contention that these postings are a violation of the Mentone Police Department’s code of conduct. Monday afternoon, Officer Greenwood was placed on paid leave pending a due process hearing in front of an impartial hearing officer. The hearing will be scheduled in the next 10 days,” Hammond said.
Greenwood has been an officer with the Mentone Police Department since December 2018, serving previously as Sylvania’s police chief. He told The Times-Journal that he is “absolutely not racist” and doesn’t recall ever being presented with a policy to sign that would limit what he could share online. He said this is the first time in 26 years in law enforcement that he’s ever received this sort of complaint and cited an internal police department conflict as the motivation for the investigation.
Greenwood said he has not taken anything off his Facebook because he wants to be transparent and does not believe he did anything wrong. He said he “absolutely” enforces the law equally.
He said most of what is on his Facebook newsfeed are things other people created that he simply shares such as an article claiming that the U.S. Treasury has proposed putting George Floyd on the $20 bill. Floyd, a Minneapolis black man, was caught on video with a police officer kneeling atop the man’s neck, killing him as he was arrested for attempting to use a counterfeit $20 bill. Some protestors aligning themselves with the Black Lives Matters movement have called for defunding of police departments nationwide.
“In my opinion, [Floyd] was a criminal. He’s sure made a name for himself,” Greenwood said. He said he was agitated by news of corporations changing the labels of products that some claim sentimentalize the era of Deep South slavery, adding “a lot of this has gotten way outta hand. What’s the standard of what we can share on social media? I’ve never targeted or threatened to kill anyone.”
He also directly addressed an allegation that he was affiliated with the Ku Klux Klan, saying, “Those guys are hateful, spiteful morons. I worked for the DeKalb County Sheriff’s Department when the KKK held rallies on the courthouse steps, and I was so disgusted by what I saw. It made me sick.”
Greenwood claimed several of this good friends are black and Hispanic, Jewish and Catholic, all of which are groups the Klan views critically, but he personally “love[s] dearly.” He has shared posts critical of the Black Lives Matter movement, Muslims, Democrats, homosexuals and Antifa, but maintains he judges a person based on their actions rather than their race, sexuality, religion or political affiliation.
“If some radical Christian shot up a church, I’d share a story about that as much as I would if a radical Muslim did,” he said. “I’m prejudiced against people who do stupid things. I can’t help what race you are when you mess up. I do post a lot of stuff about minorities and may post some stuff that looks racist, but there’s got to be some standard. Innocent people are getting killed.”
He said his experience with the private military contractor formerly called Blackwater is limited to a week of law enforcement training. He has a past affiliation with the group Sons of the Revolutionary War and strongly supports veterans and the military.
“Police officers aren’t the bad guys. Sure, there are some crooked cops, but the majority aren’t, There are also crooked doctors too. There is bad in everything. It hurts to see my brothers in blue be attacked and killed,” Greenwood said.
Many cities and towns hold police officers to a higher standard than everyday citizens in terms of the message they express and might appear to endorse on their private social media. Hammond, the mayor, confirmed Mentone has such a policy.
The Town of Geraldine exercised its authority to terminate its assistant police chief after he was placed on paid leave for posting a comment to his Facebook on Feb. 4 that some perceived as threatening U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi with a roadside bomb after she ripped up a copy of President Trump’s State of the Union address on live television.
That officer, Jeff Buckles, was fired back in February despite apologizing in a separate post and explaining that he was just “venting” online. About 20 residents in the town showed up at his public hearing to express support for him and defend his integrity, but Buckles chose to hold a private hearing. Mayor Chuck Ables said he received dozens of calls and emails from others sprinkled throughout the United States criticizing Buckles’ original comments, but it was the violation of the town’s social media policy that led to the decision.