A Terre Haute Police Department sergeant returned to duty Thursday following a six-day suspension without pay in connection with recent social media posts.
Those Facebook posts by Sgt. Bradley Newman, which have since been deleted from his personal site, called for use of nuclear weapons against China as retaliation for purportedly using COVID-19 as a bio weapon.
As part of the THPD disciplinary action, Newman also is required to report for remedial supervision and additional training regarding the expectations of supervisors for a six-month period, according to a letter by Police Chief Shawn Keen.
Newman, who also was recently re-elected to his second term as Vigo County clerk, served his police suspension Jan. 5 to 7 and Jan. 11 to 13.
Newman did not appeal the disciplinary action to the THPD Merit Commission, Keen said Friday.
In December, Newman was placed on immediate relief of duty pending the outcome of a department investigation after complaints were received about the Facebook posts.
In part, Newman wrote on Facebook, “Is it just me or does anyone think we ought to nuke China. This virus wasn’t an accident. Kind of tired of the United States allowing people to walk all over us then wondering why people don’t look at us as a superpower. China needs to be held accountable!”
A respondent then asked: “Are you really suggesting murdering millions of innocent men, women and children as a recourse for the pandemic? What proof is there that this was intentional? Please read evidence only, not some cracks pot on you tube spouting conspiracy theories. I expect more from my elected officials than this type of xenophobic genocide.”
Newman responded: “Yes I am. Absolutely! Smoke’em. Time to have a set and send the message it’s not acceptable. Elected official or not — this pandemic is their fault and they need to be held accountable. Proof? How much more proof do you need? If you don’t like it don’t follow my page but this is ridiculous — the amount of damage this has caused needs to have consequences.”
The posts have since been deleted.
Both Keen and Mayor Duke Bennett said Newman's social media posts did not reflect the values of the police department or the city of Terre Haute.
In a letter of suspension sent Jan. 4 to Newman by Assistant Chief Matt Carden, Newman was told “As a supervisor, and a senior member of this department, your violations of these policies and the public's negative perception of your actions is not taken lightly.”
Carden said Newman was found in violation of departmental directives 2.02 Code of Ethics and 2.24 Use of Electronic Social Media.
“While you may have had no intent to convey bias,” Carden's letter said, “your posts have negatively affected the public perception of the department” and violate the departmental directives.
Adopted in 2015 and revised in 2020, the policy outlines what is and is not acceptable use of social media be it for work or personal use.
The newspaper's telephone message left with Newman seeking comment on Friday was not returned.
Newman gave a statement to police Dec. 30 in which he admitted he made the posts and said they were wrong and an error in judgment, according to the assistant chief's letter.
Newman also said he has no bias against any race or nationality and does not promote the idea of genocide, Carden's letter said.
The letter said Newman is required to complete corrective action in the form of training, specifically required to successfully complete the course Risk of Social Media in the Workplace. He also must report to a police captain for remedial supervision and additional training regarding the expectations of supervisors.
He must be free of violations for six months, and future violations could result in more severe punishment.
In 2017, Newman was issued a two-day suspension after he was found in violation of professional conduct, insubordination, personal conduct and a property/evidence submission protocol violation for an incident while he was working the police station’s front desk. That was decreased to a one-day suspension in an agreed resolution with the merit commission.
Lisa Trigg can be reached at 812-231-4254 or at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow her on Twitter at TribStarLisa.