Elgin officer fired after Facebook posts on Ferguson, MLK Day
A 17-year Elgin police veteran was fired Monday in the wake of Facebook posts he made that appeared to have racial connotations, including one about last month's fatal shooting in Ferguson, Missouri.
Officer Jason A. Lentz, 40, was terminated from his position after he was found guilty of engaging in "conduct that would undermine the credibility of the city or employees," the police department said in a statement.
Lentz also was found in violation of the department's social media policy, the statement said.
In the statement, Police Chief Jeffrey Swoboda said, "Our relationship with the community is based upon trust. When an officer violates this trust, action must be taken."
Lentz and his attorney Timothy D. O'Neil did not immediately respond to requests for comment.
Elgin City Manager Sean Stegall declined to comment.
Lentz had been placed on paid administrative leave Aug. 21 after members of the police department read the Facebook posts.
A police department sergeant read an Aug. 15 Facebook post that said Missouri police officer Darren Wilson "did society a favor" when he shot and killed unarmed teenager Michael Brown. A grand jury is reviewing that case.
Lentz was asked to remove the post, and later police command staff searched his Facebook account, finding 10 more Facebook posts they considered questionable. The posts dated back to August 2013.
Lentz was put on leave when Wolf and Swoboda were informed about the posts.
According to police records, Lentz made the following posts:
• July 7: A post about relatives of a black man charged with the murder of a police officer in Indianapolis said: "If your kid wasn't a (expletive) bag that officer would still be alive."
• November 2013: A post lauded a parent's decision to keep a child from school on Veterans Day, pointing out children don't go to school on Martin Luther King Jr. Day.
• August 2013: A post about a police training class canceled in Lombard after protests from a Muslim civil liberties group said: "Hmmm ... another way to thwart law enforcement efforts from learning about threats to our cities and nation. Again we are falling prey to political correctness."
Lentz previously received a two-day suspension in May after he falsely stated on Facebook that the police department fabricated calls for service, according to police records, which also show he was disciplined several times since his hiring in January 1997.