After he demoted a deputy this week for making a social media post that included a racial slur, the Jasper County sheriff has called a community meeting in an effort to promote positive dialogue between his office and residents.
Jasper County Sheriff Chris Malphrus said Doug Byrd was demoted from lieutenant to sheriff’s deputy and suspended without pay after Malprus learned about the post. Malphrus said the demotion includes a pay cut and Byrd also has been placed on extended probation.
“Recently it was brought to my attention that a Jasper County Deputy, on his personal time, made an inappropriate comment on his personal social media account,” Malphrus said in a post on the sheriff’s office Facebook page.
“After personally looking into the matter, I feel the deputy’s comment was uncalled for and inappropriate. The deputy’s comment does not reflect the professionalism, integrity, and moral values of my personal or professional standards.”
The community meeting is scheduled for 6-8 p.m. Tuesday at the Ridgeland Baptist Church social hall.
“This meeting is being held to openly discuss community relations between the sheriff’s office and the citizens of Jasper County,” Malphrus said. “We all make mistakes, including law enforcement officers, and we want to improve upon them, be transparent with the community and move forward. We also need help solving (recent) homicides and we all need to work together to make this happen.”
When contacted by the Jasper County Sun Times this week about the social media post, Malphrus said Byrd is facing disciplinary action and if the requirements are not adhered to it could result in termination.
“The deputy will also be required to complete sensitivity training and also counseling, (and) has had his administrative vehicle revoked and replaced with a marked vehicle,” Malphrus said.
Byrd wrote a letter of apology that was posted on the sheriff’s office Facebook page.
In the letter, Byrd says he was in a car accident last month that left him confined to a bed or couch with back injuries. He said he recently was given a chance to get out of the house.
Byrd posted on social media this week a photograph of himself on a boat. Below the photo, he posted a hashtag that included a racial slur.
“Like millions of other people, I posted a photograph on social media chronicling the adventure,” he said. “As a caption to that photograph, I used a word that has been taken as a racial slur. Little did I know that this would cause the pain and loss of trust and respect that it has.
“… To the people of any race, sex, color, creed or religion that these words have offended, I offer my sincerest and deep apology.”
“I do not ask that you blindly accept this apology,” he said later in the statement. “I ask that you give me the opportunity to make amends. I fully expect each and every one of you to hold me accountable for my actions and when you feel that I have adequately met your expectations, only then to forgive me.”
Malphrus said while Byrd’s post was uncalled for and against department standards, he believes it was an error in judgment.
“He has over 30 years of experience in law enforcement and has not had any previous disciplinary actions under my administration,” Malphrus said.