Palmer police chief back on the job after ‘inappropriate’ comments about Black Lives Matter

View of Palmer. Photo: Flickr, AK_AV8TOR

Palmer’s police chief returned to work Monday after a nearly three-week suspension over Facebook posts he made calling the Black Lives Matter movement a “hate group” and, separately, questioning the legitimacy of sexual assault reports.

Dwayne Shelton’s 2018 Facebook comments surfaced in early June amid widespread protests against racism and police use of excessive force in the wake of George Floyd’s death.

The City of Palmer had described Shelton’s comments as “inappropriate.”

Shelton apologized in a written statement from the City of Palmer on Monday.

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“We all deserve to be treated fairly and with respect,” Shelton said in the statement. “Law enforcement has no place for prejudices, excessive force, or abuse of police powers. I will not tolerate any portion of it.”

The statement comes after vigorous debate over whether Shelton should keep his job. Thousands of protesters held a rally in Palmer a few days after Shelton’s suspension. Several days later, people speaking on both sides of the issue testified for hours at a Palmer City Council meeting.

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City Manager John Moosey said he reviewed Shelton’s Facebook comments, as well as his past conduct as a police officer and as chief of police.

According to the City of Palmer’s statement Monday, written by Moosey, the city will enact several measures to address racial equality. That includes having Palmer police use body cameras, hiring “non-public safety personnel,” reviewing all of the department’s use of force cases and developing an educational program for all City of Palmer employees to understand personal and racial bias.

6/22/2020: An Open Letter to our Residents and Friends of the City of Palmer: Recent national events, a public…

Posted by CITY OF PALMER, ALASKA on Monday, June 22, 2020

Casey Grove is host of Alaska News Nightly, a general assignment reporter and an editor at Alaska Public Media. Reach him at Read more about Casey here

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