Fake social media accounts bring down Vermont police chief — and successor

In this April, 10, 2018, file photo, Police Chief Brandon del Pozo speaks during a news conference in Burlington , Vt., The chief told The Associated Press on Friday, Dec. 13, 2019, that he used an anonymous Twitter account in July to troll a government critic, and that he took six weeks of medical leave to seek mental health treatment after telling his story to the mayor. (AP Photo/Lisa Rathke, File)

BURLINGTON, Vt. (AP) 12/16 — Hours after the police chief in Vermont’s largest city resigned over using a fake social media account to heckle a critic, the mayor announced that the officer acting as chief revealed she too has used a fake account.

Deputy Chief Jan Wright told Burlington’s mayor Monday that she used a fake Facebook account to engage citizens in police policy talk.

Mayor Miro Weinberger said that while Wright’s fake account was different than former Burlington Police Department Chief Brandon del Pozo’s, it highlights a widespread problem of leadership being caught in the web of social media.

“Given the circumstances the department is facing, I found the failure to raise this issue with me in the lead-up to today to constitute a lapse in judgment,” Weinberger said in a statement.

As a result, Weinberger named Deputy Chief Jon Murad the new acting chief and said Murad has “confirmed explicitly” to the city attorney that he has never used a fake social media account.

Wright was named interim chief of the department earlier Monday after del Pozo submitted his resignation over backlash from using a fake Twitter account. He’s accused of using the anonymous account to respond to a critic for one hour on July 4 before deleting the account.

Burlington Mayor Miro Weinberger announces the resignation of Police Chief Brandon del Pozo on Monday, Dec. 16, 2919, at the police station in Burlington, Vt. The announcement came days after it was revealed that del Pozo had used an anonymous Twitter account to heckle a city critic online. (AP Photo/Lisa Rathke)

 

He had initially lied to a Seven Days newspaper reporter when asked about it in July. Days later, he confessed to the mayor. Weinberger said he had placed him on administrative leave and directed him to turn in his badge, gun and city phone and to stop using social media. The chief then took six weeks of medical leave to seek mental health treatment. He returned to service in September.

The mayor has been criticized by some for not notifying the city council and public sooner. He said Monday that city officials had quickly learned that del Pozo had an underlying mental health condition and that they were trying to protect del Pozo’s medical privacy. Weinberger also apologized for the city to Charles Winkleman, who had been targeted by del Pozo.

Del Pozo, who was appointed chief in 2015, was in a bicycle crash in 2018 in which he suffered three skull fractures, two brain bleeds and a concussion.

In his letter of resignation, del Pozo wrote that the city was able to fight the opioid crisis by reducing overdose deaths by half in 2018 and sustaining that into 2019; closed the gap in racial disparities in many ways; and lowered violent crime, Weinberer said, reading from the letter.

Weinberger said that in the case of Wright, the city attorney and human resources director will review her posts to determine if further action is required.

Wright operated the Facebook account under the name “Lori Spicer,” Weinberger said.

The mayor added that within two weeks, his administration will make additional changes to their draft social media policy to address the seemingly rampant “issues of anonymous social media posting by senior officials.”

https://apnews.com/55be1d59f59c1fea4bafc2c21ae16ef3

Copyright 2019 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Posted in: Misconduct/Abuse of Authority, Police, Police Leadership, Policies & Practices, Public Policy, Social Media

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

eighteen − 5 =

Terms of Use for Posting Comments

Terms of Use

This site (the “Site”) is operated and maintained by Law Enforcement Education Foundation, Corporation (“Company”). Throughout the Site, the terms “we”, “us” and “our” refer to Company.  The words “user,” “you” and “your” as used herein refer to you.

Please read these terms and conditions of use (“Terms of Use”) carefully before contributing content. If you do not agree to these Terms of Use, please do not contribute content. Your use of the Site is subject to the Terms and Conditions found here .

By contributing content to the Site, you represent and warrant that you are at least eighteen (18) years old and that you have read and understand these Terms of Use and any amendments thereto and agree to be bound by them. If you are not at least eighteen (18) years old or you do not agree and accept these Terms of Use, you are prohibited from contributing content.

From time to time, we may permit users to submit content to the Site.  You hereby acknowledge and agree that by submitting remarks, comments, suggestions, ideas, graphics, feedback, edits, concepts, comments, photographs, illustrations and other materials (other than personal information and/or registration information) through the Site (individually and collectively, “Submissions”), you (i) grant us a nonexclusive, royalty-free, perpetual, transferable, irrevocable and fully sub-licensable right to use, reproduce, modify, adapt, translate, distribute, publish, create derivative works from and publicly display and perform such Submissions throughout the world in any media, now known or hereafter created, without attribution to you; (ii) grant us the right to pursue at law any person or entity that violates your and/or our rights in your Submissions; and (iii) forever waive any and all of your rights, including but not limited to moral rights, if any, in and to your Submissions, including, without limitation, any all rights or requirements of attribution or identification of you as the author of the Submission or any derivative thereof.  We reserve the right to remove any of your Submissions from the Site, in whole or in part, without notice to you, for any reason or no reason.

Submissions are made voluntarily. Any submissions which include personally identifiable information are subject to our Privacy Policy found here .  You may not upload or otherwise publish content on the Site that (i) is confidential to you or any third party; (ii) is untrue, inaccurate, false or other than an original work of your authorship; (iii) that relates to or impersonates any other person; (iv) violates the copyright, trademark, patent or other intellectual property rights of any person or entity; (v) contains any content, personally identifiable information or other information, or materials of any kind that relate or refer to any other person or entity other than the provider of the products, goods or services to which the Submission relates; or (vi) violates any law, or in any manner infringes or interferes with the rights of others, including but not limited to the use of names, information, or materials that (A) libel, defame, or invade the privacy of any third party, (B) are obscene or pornographic, (C) are harmful, threatening, offensive, abusive, harassing, vulgar, false or inaccurate, racially, sexually, ethnically or are otherwise objectionable or otherwise contrary to the laws of any place where such Submissions may be accessed; (D) constitute personal attacks on other individuals; (E) promote criminal, immoral or illegal activity; (F) promote or advertise any person, product or service or solicit funds; or (G) are deemed confidential by any contract or policy.

You are solely responsible for any Submissions you make and their accuracy. We take no responsibility and assume no liability for any Submissions posted by you or any third party.

Unless approved by us in writing in advance, you agree not to: (i) provide or create a link to the Site; or (ii) create any frames at any other sites pertaining to any of the content located on the Site.

We reserve the right, in our discretion, to update, change or replace any part of these Terms of Use for Posting Comments by posting updates and/or changes to our Site.  It is your responsibility to check this page periodically for changes.  Your continued use of, and/or access to the Site, following the posting of any changes to these Terms of Use for Posting Comments, constitutes your acceptance of those changes.