Ohio cop gets counseling after 'reckless' Facebook post

CINCINNATI — A black Cincinnati Police officer who wrote a July Facebook post that referenced white officers "looking for a reason to kill a black man" received the lowest form of discipline — counseling.

And the officer, Freddie Vincent, has been moved into a new job in the telephone crime-reporting unit, one that means less contact with fellow officers. The discipline is similar to what happened in a handful of other police cases in which an officer was found to have inappropriately posted something on social media.

Discipline was rendered Sept. 8, The Cincinnati Enquirer has learned.

Vincent violated the department's social-media rules, which prohibit "speech involving themselves or other department personnel reflecting behavior that would reasonably be considered reckless or irresponsible," documents show.

Vincent refused to sign the disciplinary form.

The Facebook post, first reported by WXIX TV, Cincinnati, was made on an unknown date in July after police in Baton Rouge, La., and St. Paul, Minn., suburb killed black men.

"Yep it has made world wide news now ... A message to all my Afro America friends and family. When you are encountered by a white officer make sure that you are in a public place, and comply to all of their commands, because they are looking for a reason to kill a black man," Vincent's post read. "And always keep your hands in the air, and never resist. I'm so tired of cops using these famous words 'I was in fear of my life.' I'm praying for Louisiana. That could have been my nephew in B.R."

The post was deleted after fellow officers complained to city officials.

At the time, Cincinnati Police Chief Eliot Isaac sent a statement to the media, saying: “The Cincinnati Police Department strives to maintain a culture of professionalism, as well as transparency and accountability for our actions. I am proud of the work of the men and women of the Cincinnati Police Department and our efforts to work collaboratively with the community."

Vincent received support from some corners of the city's black community. The Rev. Damon Lynch III preached a sermon July 24 titled Ode to Freddie Vincent. Lynch is pastor of New Prospect Baptist Church, one of the city's most influential and politically active black congregations.

"I thank you, Brother, stand tall," Lynch said from the altar. "We need a warning. One way to get justice in our police departments is to press from the outside. If you get some brothers and sisters sitting by the door, you can tear it down from the inside. We need to support those who are willing to put it out there."

Lynch could not be reached Wednesday for comment on Vincent's discipline.

This is not Vincent's first disciplinary action. Vincent was fired from the Cincinnati Police Department in August 1999 after pleading no contest to speeding on his motorcycle along U.S. 27 in Butler County and failing to have an operator's license, according to Enquirer reports at the time.

He was reinstated in July 2000 when arbitrators reduced discipline to a 40-hour suspension and said the officer's career could be salvaged with extra training.

Vincent previously had been the subject of multiple disciplinary actions, including dishonesty, failure of good behavior and neglect of duty for six negligent auto accidents in a cruiser, The Enquirer reported.

Follow Sharon Coolidge and Mark Curnutte on Twitter: @SharonCoolidge and @MarkCurnutte


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