SALEM, Mass. (CBS) – A Salem police captain has been demoted two levels to sergeant after she tweeted from the department’s official account criticizing protesters in Boston.
Earlier this month, Kate Stephens tweeted from the official Salem Police Department criticizing Boston protesters after the death of George Floyd. Stephens was placed on leave for what the department called an “unauthorized” post.
The tweet, which was quickly deleted, tagged Boston Mayor Marty Walsh, saying “so you issued a permit for 10 of thousands of people to protest but I can’t go to a restaurant? You are ridiculous. You and Too Tall Deval are killing this State.”
On Wednesday, Salem Police announced Stephens’ demotion. The department said the two-step demotion, which results in a 20% reduction in base salary, was “the first in the department’s recent history.”
“As police officers we are – rightly – held to a higher standard of conduct,” said Police Chief Mary Butler. ”Sergeant Stephens’ words undermined confidence in not just her, but in the entire department. The men and women of the Salem Police Department are committed to rebuilding trust between the department and every member of the community whom we serve and protect.”
Stephens also issued a written apology Wednesday, saying she intended to send the tweet from her personal account and deleted it when she realized the mistake.
“I absolutely believe and will defend everyone’s right to peacefully protest and exercise their first amendment rights. I am so sorry for this mistake,” she wrote. “My tweet, intended for my personal Twitter, was an attempt to vent my frustration about the COVID-19 restrictions. Even on my personal Twitter account the message would have been inappropriate.”
Stephens no longer has access to the department’s social media accounts.