TERRE HAUTE, Ind. (WTWO/WAWV) – Protests happened outside of the Vigo County Sheriff’s department Wednesday calling on leadership to speak out against racism, following a social media post that some call offensive.
A Facebook post by Vigo County Sheriff’s Lt. Mike Anderson has led to much controversy.
“He’s been a deputy with the sheriff’s department for over 40 years now and so it’s no secret, anybody that knew him or worked with him knew how this guy was,” said Dominique Morefield, organizer with The Reform Movement of Terre Haute.
Since the post, Anderson has been terminated by the Vigo County School Corporation where he worked off-duty as a school protection officer, and has filed paperwork for his retirement with the sheriff’s department.
Sheriff John Plasse said his office did looked into the post, but it did not violate current department policy.
This led to Wednesday’s protests calling for Plasse to denounce the posts.
“We don’t want him to just say that it’s not a violation of policy, while he doesn’t condone it. We want him to actively condemn racism in his department,” Morefield said.
During the protests, some community members also came to show their support for Plasse and law enforcement.
“I do understand why they might be upset. I just feel like with Sheriff Plasse, he can only do what’s in his power to do and in their policies to do,” said Cathy Jolliff, Terre Haute resident.
Sheriff Plasse did speak with protestors face-to-face on Wednesday.
When addressing some of the concerns protestors had, the sheriff spoke against racism.
“Racism and bias has no place in our country and more importantly no place in law enforcement. That’s something I do not condone, I condemn it,” Plasse said.
He said his department is also working to make effective policy changes.
“We’re going to look at social media but we’re also going to look at some of our hiring, some of the questions we ask when we do the polygraph,” Plasse said.
Plasse said he hopes one person’s remarks do not shine a negative light on the entire department.
“The comments of one person should not reflect bad on the rest of that organization. It’s hurtful, it makes our deputies lose self-esteem, it hurts morale, when they’ve done nothing wrong other than protect this community,” Plasse said.
Plasse also said when policy changes are made, he will make sure current deputies are educated on them to make sure they know what is expected from them.