Meridian Township Terminates Fire Lieutenant for Racial Facebook Comments

Meridian Township Terminates Fire Lieutenant for Racial Facebook Comments

MERIDIAN TOWNSHIP - The internal investigation report on the firefighter who posted racial comments on Facebook was released on Tuesday, July 7, confirming the termination of the employee.

The investigation was opened up on June 23 when a woman from Virginia posted on one of the Fire Departments Facebook posts that one of their firefighters was making comments on a post from her local news page.

The post was over a high school changing its name to not reflect Confederate general Robert E. Lee. There, former Fire Lt. Dennis Schrier of the Meridian Township Fire Department commented ‘Bldm,’ standing for ‘black lives don’t matter.’ When others on Facebook questioned his comment, Schrier stated that he didn’t stutter, asked if he needed to clear his throat and concluded with ‘they don’t.’

Around two weeks later, the investigation, led by the Human Resource Department, was concluded, the Lieutenant was fired, and Meridian Township posted the report on its website along with an apology statement from Township Manager Frank Walsh.

“The first thing that we need to say in this entire interview is an apology to Black Lives Matter, to the black community, and to the whole movement, and to our community,” said Walsh in an interview with HOMTV. “I’m ashamed and embarrassed about what has happened, and they deserve a full apology, and I hope they accept that.”

Walsh said that he was devastated and humiliated that one of their employees that were sworn in to protect and serve would say that ‘Black Lives Don’t Matter’ and from the moment the comments were brought to the Township’s attention, Schrier never worked for them again.

The report also documented a couple of other statements from witnesses that said Schrier had also posted on social media about his distaste for affirmative action, calls to burn former President Barack Obama’s photograph and the use of the N-word. Schrier also took part in posting homophobic language on Facebook about a former Township employee after the former employee told him one of his posts was inappropriate. One witness said that Schrier also made posts with racial slurs about Hispanic people and used a name inappropriately about a Sparrow nurse’s son with a disability.

The earliest post documented was made nine years ago in 2011.

When Shrier was contacted on scheduling a Pre-Disciplinary Meeting, he thought it was on recent posts he made about the appearance of former first lady Michelle Obama which resulted in Facebook blocking him. When the report was brought to his attention, Shrier said that he did not remember making any of the comments, but that it was obviously him since it was on his account.

Schrier was found guilty of violating the policies from the Township Code of Conduct/Workplace Etiquette and Work Rules, Township Social Media Policy, Fire Department Code of Ethics and Department SOP 2018-103, which has employees conduct themselves in the “highest standards of integrity and reputation to the Department.”

Township Manager Walsh said that there most likely will not be changing any of their policies and there most likely won’t be an increase in the monitoring of Township employee’s personal social media accounts.

“We won’t be looking over everyone’s shoulder to see what they do, but in the end, if they do something that is so distasteful and so disgraceful to our community, we will take action. I think this is a good message to everyone,” said Walsh.

Walsh said that the Township will be looking into doing more additional training on diversity and inclusion, including not only race but LGBTQ and gender bias as well.

Additional Resources

See the township’s final report here:

 

https://www.meridian.mi.us/home/showdocument?id=21314

 

See HOMTV's full interview with Walsh here:

 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kCZ0LuXO0Wk&feature=youtu.be

 

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