Three Tacoma, Washington Police officers made some questionable TikToks about their views on policing and protests and it’s gotten them in some hot water.
Officer Sam Lopez posted a video on June 26th, commenting on how his department was requested to attend a Defund The Police protest for the protestors protection. His video originally got some mixed reactions, from people supporting Lopez in his confusion saying “everyone complains about cops…until they need one” and “that’s why Black Lives Matter is literally a joke”.
Others, however, are quick to point out that ‘Defunding the Police’ is not the same as abolishing the police, and the movement is more about shrinking the police budget so it goes to other social services and limiting the role of police without abolishing it. One user said “defunding literally makes your job easier, it transfers funds, secondly – you’re a public servant that’s your job” and another “yikes. So you haven’t taken the time to understand what people mean by defund the police? Cool.”
Twitter user Chad Loder has tweeted this video and several other TikTok’s of Lopez out, claiming he violated his department’s policies, citing the Tacoma PD’s Professional Standards Code. The code reads “officers when maintaining themselves as representatives of the Department and / or using Department equipment or uniforms, shall not without specific permission from the chief of Police, address public gatherings.”
You might notice in the original video, Lopez has taken off his badge and name plate. Some are speculating this is because he was aware he was violating the Professional Standards policy when he posted the video.
Other TikTok’s from Lopez are also being shared on Twitter, where the officer is defending the use of the ‘Thin Blue Line Flag’ on company cars and is mocking those who feel it’s a racist symbol. The Thin Blue Line Flag is a symbol often used in the law enforcement community to show solidarity in the profession and to honor those who lost their lives on the job. Critiques of the flag say it perpetuates an ‘us vs. them’ mentality and is harmful to the relationship between the police and the community. Lopez posted another TikTok to explain his attachment to the flag.
People on twitter are saying this video also violate the departments Professional Standards Code which says “statements to the news media regarding Department Policies, philosophies, or enforcement procedures will be made only by the office of the Chief of Police”. Basically people are saying Lopez was posting new department policies about the flag before they were finalized, and this violated his agreement with the police department that officers will not disclose new procedures to the media
There’s also one more TikTok from Lopez that is being critiqued, as he discusses jokingly that his ‘Blue Flu’ could last over a year. ‘Blue Flu’ is a concept that started during the Atlanta Black Lives Matter Protests, where officers will call out from their shift, claiming to be sick. When they have ‘blue flu’ they aren’t actually sick, but are protesting their work because they feel under appreciated and under valued by the government and their department. This has led to fear that eventually so many officers will be on strike that large cities are left without a police force.
This video was posted publicly and was shared on twitter as evidence that Lopez violated another police that states “member’s shall not feign illness or injury, falsely report themselves ill or otherwise deceive or attempt to deceive any official of the department”.
These videos were shared along with the email and number to report Lopez to his department, and he is currently under investigation from the department. The Tacoma City Manager said in a statement that the offices “have been directed to cease the unauthorized use of city equipment, uniforms or vehicles in any personal communications” and that they are “committed to restoring the public’s trust in the important role that our police department plays in ensuring the safety of our community” They said Lopez is currently being investigated by the department’s complaint management system.
Two other officers are now also under investigation in Tacoma for their own controversial tweets and TikToks so we’ll have to wait and see what the outcome is and if they ultimately keep their jobs.