A police officer in Colorado Springs who threatened Black Lives Matter protesters on Facebook will be allowed to keep his job, the department’s police chief announced earlier this week. Sgt. Keith Wrede — who made made the comments under a false Facebook account — will instead be suspended without pay and reassigned to another position within police department.
Back in June, Wrede used a Facebook profile with the fake name “Steven Eric” and posted threatening comments underneath a Facebook Livestream of a Black Lives Matter march. “Kill them all,” he wrote about the demonstrators. He later deleted the Facebook account.
Local news outlet KRDO brought the comments to the Colorado Springs Police Department’s attention. After an internal affairs investigation, the department determined that Wrede had been responsible for the remarks.
“It has been found that the Facebook profile used to make those comments did in fact belong to Colorado Springs Police Department Sergeant Keith Wrede,” CSPD Chief Vince Niski wrote in a statement published by CBS Denver. “We offer our organizational humility and a heartfelt apology to our entire community.”
In his statement, Niski claimed Wrede made the comments “out of frustration” while he was off-duty.
“There was no indication of any physical action or intent to cause harm,” he wrote. “I am in no way minimizing Sergeant Wrede’s words. His comments were unacceptable, have damaged our relationship with members of our community, and fell short of our standards.”
Wrede will remain employed by the police department but will be suspended for 40 hours without pay, which totals about $2,000 of lost wages. He will also be reassigned from his specialized unit to another position within the department.
“Throughout his 20-year career, Sergeant Wrede has professionally served this community,” Niski wrote. “While his statements were harmful and reprehensible, I cannot deprive the community of a good police officer and his services because of an isolated incident of an error in judgment.”
“I fully recognize that it will take time to rebuild relationships that have been broken,” he continued. “The only thing I would ask of our community, is to not condemn every officer that wears our badge because of one individual’s action. Please remember officers are human too and make mistakes.”