SAVANNAH, Ga. (WSAV) – A Savannah Police officer was fired Monday for a Facebook post community activists say was racist. Savannah Police Department (SPD) says the officer violated the agency’s internet usage rules and code of ethics.
Disappointed in his termination and his community, former APO Edwin Myrick told News 3 parts of the Facebook post — which he says was not authored by him — were about him, not about race.
Myrick specifically points to portions of the post where he mentions the ‘privilege’ of benefiting from public assistance. He says he has utilized government assistance two times in his life and cites statistics that show more white people benefit from public assistance than any other race.
“For someone to just assume what I am feeling inside my heart as racism because I am a white police officer is frankly very disappointing,” he said of the intense backlash from community activists.
An internal administrative investigation report says Police Chief Roy Minter was alerted to the post when a community member emailed him a screenshot asking him if Myrick worked for SPD.
“If you take [an] employee and you just terminate them without having some kind of dialogue of intent, then you’re really doing an injustice to the city of Savannah and you are unbelievably destroying the morale of the police department,” said Myrick.
The report does include an interview with Myrick in which he is given an opportunity to explain the reasoning behind his post to Facebook. Sgt. Richard Wiggins published the following summary of the transcript:
“APO Myrick stated when he read the post, it did not mean much other than that the post was talking about “himself” in some ways. APO Myrick stated that prior to SPD, he was the Director of Emergency Management for Effingham County. When that position was dissolved, he had to go on government assistance. APO Myrick stated he felt privileged that he was able to take care of his family by reaching out to a resource that was available.”-SPD Sgt. Richard Wiggins
Myrick tells News 3 he copy and pasted the post when he saw it on Facebook. Bloomingdale Mayor Ben Rozier did the same thing, which stirred up controversy last week in his own city and within the city council.
On Thursday, Mayor Rozier told News 3 he regrets making the post, given racial tensions during this time. He says it was not his intention to offend anyone. Bloomingdale City Council has asked Rozier to resign.
Though Rozier indicated at first that he would step down, he has since changed his mind. On Thursday, he says calls from regional leaders and constituents have convinced him to stand his ground, unless there is a recall vote. He says he has not violated any policies of his office.
When it comes to Myrick — according to the report by SPD — Chief Minter says the former APO violated the department’s policy to treat others with respect. A rule explains “no employee will speak disrespectfully of any…. race.”
Futhermore, SPD says Myrick also violated the agency’s internet usage rules, which say “employees… are prohibited from using the internet to harass, annoy, belittle or oppress any other person.”
“When you’re in uniform, you’re representing the department,” explained WSAV Crime Expert and former SPD Major Gerry Long. “Even in an off-duty capacity, when you share something that is certainly adverse, then you can be held responsible for that.”
Long says the department’s social media policy is something most recruits are made aware of when they join the force. And it is one that has been around for years.
“Even though it is your personal profile, you represent the department and people know who you are,” she said.
Myrick says he blames America’s growing hatred towards police officers and a community too divided to understand where he is coming from.
“I did not see race at all, but I did not consider for a moment how people who had bad experiences would perceive the story line itself and for that, I am at fault,” said Myrick.
SPD did not wish to comment further on the investigation into Myrick or his firing.