Denver PD fires officer who published ‘Let’s start a riot’ Instagram post amid protests

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DENVER (KDVR) — The Denver Police Department said Tuesday that the officer who published a controversial Instagram post earlier this week has been terminated.

On Monday, DPD said it launched an Internal Affairs investigation after then-Officer Thomas McClay posted a picture of himself and two other officers in tactical gear with the caption “Let’s start a riot.”

McClay was removed from patrol during the investigation.

“The Internal Affairs Investigation revealed that the officer violated the Department’s social media policy, posted content inconsistent with the values of the Department, and the officer has been terminated,” DPD said in a written statement issued Tuesday afternoon.

DPD’s social media policy can be found on the city’s website.

That policy states, in part:

“Department personnel are free to express themselves as private citizens on social media
sites to the degree that their speech and expression does not impair working relationships of this department for which loyalty and confidentiality are important, impede the performance of duties, impair harmony among coworkers, adversely impact the disciplinary process, or cause disruption to the department, or to any other city agency.

Additionally, DPD policy states that employees “should assume that their speech and expression, and related activity on social media sites will reflect upon their official capacity and this department.”

As of Monday afternoon, McClay’s account could not be found on Instagram.

Denver Mayor Michael Hancock issued the following statement about the officer’s termination:

The Denver Police Protective Association issued the following statement Tuesday night:

“Today a young, probationary Denver Police officer was terminated for posting an
inflammatory, insensitive, and quite frankly, misguided photograph on social media.
Chief Pazen swiftly used his power to remove this one officer from the Department.
For the other 1,600 Denver Police officers who are left dealing with a very difficult
situation, we ask the public, as well as elected City officials, to stop using social
media to fan the flames of hatred. It is time to end utilizing social media as a tool to
divide. It is time to sit down and talk face to face. The PPA is committed to helping
our City begin to heal.”

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