Minden council votes unanimously to fire officer over Facebook controversy

At the center of the debate are racist posts allegedly made by two of the city’s police officers

Minden council votes unanimously to fire officer over Facebook controversy
A crowd has gathered for the Minden City Council meeting that gets underway at 5:30 p.m. June 3. (Source: Melissa Kakareka)

MINDEN, La. (KSLA) - One of the two Minden police officers caught up in controversy over racist Facebook posts has been fired.

The City Council took the action against Shawn Griffith after meeting behind closed doors with him for about an hour Monday evening.

Councilman Herbert Taylor made the motion to terminate Shawn Griffith when, after coming out of executive session, the mayor asked council members what they wanted to do.

The vote on Taylor’s motion was unanimous.

A City Council committee had opted against taking any action on the matter and, instead, forwarded it to the City Council.

Lawyer Pam Breedlove called the City Council’s vote a travesty and said neither brother made the posts.

“I would be upset to know that this kind of information would never see the light of day in a civil or criminal courtroom," said Breedlove.

She also said she plans to appeal to the civil service board. She says Shawn is civil service protected, even though he was hired and processed as a recruit starting in February 2018.

“State law says because he had graduated from a formal police academy being the Sheriff’s Department and been certified he had the formal training which meant when he was hired the law says his working test period shall begin.”

Minden police Officer Shawn Griffith is asked whether he wants to make his comments in public or in executive session during the City Council meeting the evening of June. 3. [Source: City of Minden]
Minden police Officer Shawn Griffith is asked whether he wants to make his comments in public or in executive session during the City Council meeting the evening of June. 3. [Source: City of Minden]

A crowd gathered in council chambers in City Hall before the meeting got underway at 5:30 p.m.

“I’m really glad that the city decided to do something for the welfare of the community. People would not feel safe if they felt there was bias in our policing," said Pastor Robert Whitaker.

The fate of the two officers, Shane and Shawn Griffith, was not formally listed on the meeting’s agenda.

But the council added this item to the agenda - “personnel - disciplinary action” then went behind closed doors at 5:31 p.m. to hear what Shawn Griffith had to say.

Police Chief Steve Cropper said late last month that he has asked Shane Griffith to resign and would ask his brother Shawn Griffith to do the same when that officer returned from vacation.

Officer Shane Griffith is civil service protected and will undergo an internal investigation before facing the council.

He remains on paid leave.

Many of the posts in question are dated from 2012 and 2015, before the two officers were hired.

The posts recently have been shared hundreds of times on Facebook.

They haven’t been proven publicly to have been written by the brothers.

One of the officers was hired in August 2017, the other in February 2018.

At the end of the meeting, Chief Steve Cropper apologized to the citizens for the negative image this has put on the city.

“I want to re-ensure every citizen in Minden I am doing everything in my power to right this wrong. The past two weeks have been the worst 2 weeks in my 30 year career and I would never knowingly have brought this to my department if I had any prior knowledge. I sincerely hope you can accept my apology and I appreciate y’all coming tonight," he said.

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