Police officer resigns over social media joke

JACKSON — A Jackson Police Department lieutenant is out after community members, advocates for survivors of sexual violence, activists and politicians expressed outrage over a Facebook post he wrote  they call harmful and beyond inappropriate.

In response to the post on the department’s Facebook page, the Community Safety Network said it wants to work to maintain a deeper relationship with law enforcement to improve survivor experiences.

“As advocates, Community Safety Network condemns this post as inexcusable and directly harmful to survivors of violence,” the nonprofit’s board and staff said in a statement released Friday. “Humor is never appropriate surrounding the ongoing reality of sexual assault and gender-based violence.”

Lt. Roger Schultz resigned Friday, about a week after he wrote about how the Jackson Police Department was investigating an alleged sexual assault involving a minor, but might need coffee and sprinkle doughnuts to help them figure out if a crime was committed.

The post was described as disgusting, flippant and disrespectful by some community members.

After the post made rounds on the internet, Sgt. Michelle Weber, who is serving as interim police chief after Todd Smith’s retirement this week, said Schultz apologized to the victim in the case.

“To not have contacted her would have been unacceptable,” Weber said.

Schultz also put out an apology on the department’s Facebook page, which was later deleted when some called it tone deaf. In it he called the joke self-deprecating and a mistake.

Jackson Town Manager Larry Pardee put out a response Thursday promising better training for not just the police department but the entire town staff.

“We are starting to see how systemic these issues are,” Pardee said, “and even before this incident the town was in discussion with the Jackson Hole Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Collective about leading dialogues and trainings.”

Pardee said he will make good on the promise to work with the group to better understand bias and privilege and the “cultural constructs that perpetuate them.”

In its statement, the Community Safety Network encouraged law enforcement to issue a genuine apology. It also suggested the Jackson Police Department improve its daily Facebook police blotter entries by including reports of sexual assault, domestic violence and stalking statistically rather than narratively.

It also said it expects “law enforcement will take the initiative to undergo extensive training in survivor-centered practices and trauma responses.”

Grassroots group Act Now JH, which has been calling for defunding the department since June, said Schultz’s post highlights a culture of misogyny within the Jackson Police Department.

In a press release sent Friday, Town Council candidate Jessica Sell Chambers applauded Schultz’s resignation.

“JPD and the town of Jackson clearly conveyed that how we talk about sexual assault matters,” she said. “Not talking about it also matters. Mayor Pete Muldoon’s voice aside, the silence of our local male electeds and candidates for office on the matter speaks volumes.”

Mayor Muldoon said Schultz’s Facebook post should make everyone question the culture of policing.

“Traumatized victims of sexual assault and domestic violence need absolute assurance that a call for assistance is responded to by professionals who will treat their situation seriously and who have the background and the empathy to understand how to help them,” he said. “The Facebook post, which trivialized and made light of the alleged rape of a child, should make anyone very concerned that the culture of our police department is not compatible with providing that kind of assistance.”

Muldoon also said he doesn’t think training is the solution.

“It’s clear that we need to take a very hard look at a system of policing that has been in place for many decades and ask ourselves if it still meets the expectations of our residents in 2020.”