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Former Surf City chief unrepentant about Facebook rants

Posted October 30, 2015

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— Former Surf City Police Chief Mike Halstead says he was shocked when town leaders dismissed him over a Facebook post.

Halstead is one of many people who have found that taking to social media or email while angry can have consequences in the real world.

It was early September, after a number of high-profile killings of law enforcement officers, including that of a deputy sheriff in Texas. At the same time, communities were reacting to the police shootings of young black men that lead to inflammatory chants that were derogatory of law enforcement during Black Lives Matter protests.

"To me that just hit me wrong," Halstead said. "It's nothing more, it's nothing more than a terrorist group."

Keyboard typing You're online. You're angry. Do this before hitting send Halstead took his uncensored anger to his Facebook page.

"When a black thug is killed by the police they are all over it as is Mr. Barack Obama. However when a police officer white, black or any race is murdered for doing his job the media is short with it's reporting or not at all," his post read in part. The same post continued, "As for the New Black Panther movement who wants to kill whites and cops, go for it, we are ready for you. You take one of us and there will be 100 who will step up and end you."

Asked if he regretted what he wrote, Halstead said, "Absolutely not." While he said some might have been offended by his post, Halstead said, "That was not my intention."

Days after the controversial post, Surf City town council members stunned the chief.

"The mayor said that we've come to the conclusion, the decision that you to retire immediately, today, or you will be terminated today," Halstead recalled. "And I'm like what, wait a minute, that's not what you told me four hours ago."

Halstead said he felt he was thrown out "like a bag of trash for just speaking up, exercising my First Amendment Rights on my personal Facebook page."

In a statement to WRAL, Town Manager Larry Bergman told us the chief's racially tinged rant violated department policy.

"No one denied Halstead a right to free speech," Bergman said. "Freedom of speech does not mean freedom from its consequences, and Halstead himself implemented a department policy that negates his own claims of First Amendment violations."

Halstead's remarks, Bergman wrote, "called into question his ability to fairly and justly manage and lead a police department and jeopardizes the Surf City Police Department and the Town of Surf City's ability to effectively operate and defend against those that would question our public safety practices and ongoing criminal cases."

They also put his officers in danger, Bergman said.

"A police chief should not throw down a challenge to a criminal element. A police chief, in any kind of public forum, should exercise caution when describing departmental policy on the use of force," he wrote.

Now a former police officer, Halstead says the town was wrong to dismiss him.

"Instead of sitting down with me and talking like they should have talked and supported their police chief, they ran me out the door," he said.

Halstead still lives near Surf City and hopes to continue his law enforcement career elsewhere.

16 Comments

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  • Real Libertine Oct 31, 2015
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    Racial harmony has certainly blossomed under the community organizer. /sarc

  • Andrew Gluck Oct 31, 2015
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    When a group calls for the murder of others, they are a terrorist group. All anyone cares about is what is politically correct, not about reality.

  • Daniel Solomon Oct 31, 2015
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    I guess he considers all the innocent people maimed, or killed by police terrorists too for wanting accountability.

  • SusanandAaron Tambot-Blankenship Oct 31, 2015
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    The guy is rightly fired, his judgement is in serious question for his statements.

    Also, in this thread the irony of farmers complaining of others receiving government money.

  • Tom Boswell Oct 31, 2015
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    Halstead certainly had to understand the double standard that exist today.

  • Angel Bousquet Oct 31, 2015
    user avatar

    ***sigh***

    When will people learn that (just like the article says) you are entitled to freedom of speech but you are not entitled to freedom from the consequences of your speech. It's just not good judgment to get on the internet and type what ever ignorant comments come to your mind, especially in a position of power and influence, and especially when you are a representing an entity that probably doesn't share the same sentiment as you do. He really should have known better. I sure would like to say quite a few things that aren't considered politically correct but I also like working for a living.

  • Linda Cencelewski Oct 31, 2015
    user avatar

    What happened to freedom of speech? BTW, I totally agree with him.

  • Guy Smith Oct 30, 2015
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    Shan't be going to Surf City any time soon!

  • Fred Holt Oct 30, 2015
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    And for that matter - to try to bring this thread out of it's racist beginnings - the (white) teenager shot dead while trying to flee a petty drug offense in Seneca SC the other day is but one more example where deadly force was used when totally unnecessary, and the cop faces no consequences. I know there are a majority of good cops -I know some personally. But those - like this chief - who stick up for all of them who kill first and ask questions later are problems waiting to happen out on patrol - and sure as heck shouldn't be in positions of authority.

  • Fred Holt Oct 30, 2015
    user avatar

    Not every victim of police violence is innocent - but plenty lately have been, and this dude just seems to be taunting "bring it on N-words". Talk to the 12 year old in Cleveland who wasn't even alive long enough to hear a cop warn him, or the father in the walmart talking on the phone after picking up a BB gun to purchase - gunned down without warning. Well you can't because they are dead at the hands of police who were not held to account. Seems a "leader" like a police chief should be able to walk a finer line than taunting the black race, and calling out the president of the country in the process. Good riddance to this guy. I'm sure there are plenty of capable police with better judgement to take his place.

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