WINFIELD — A Winfield police officer resigned Monday after admitting to making inappropriate Facebook posts about those protesting the death of George Floyd in Minnesota.
According to Winfield Police Chief Ron Arthur, former officer Noah Garcelon resigned after being confronted about the posts that called for violence against protesters.
“He admitted to doing it and apologized,” Arthur said. “He said he understood that what he did was wrong, and he resigned immediately.”
Garcelon admitted to writing a post on his Facebook page Saturday evening that said, “Peaceful protesting. I would start firing live rounds. Bunch of animals.” The next day he posted, “I’d see how many I could run over before my car breaks down ... get out of the way.”
Arthur described Garcelon as a man in his mid-20s who also was a member of the West Virginia National Guard. Arthur said Garcelon had never worked as a police officer before and hadn’t been to the West Virginia State Police Academy for training.
“He was hired in mid-December and was supposed to go to the academy in March, but the coronavirus pandemic pushed all that back,” the chief said. “They have some type of civil-unrest and crowd-control training there, and I wish he could have been given that training.”
Arthur says all the other officers in the Winfield Police Department have been through the academy.
“He said he is not a racist, but we have zero tolerance for this type of behavior here,” he said.
Arthur added that he felt a swift reaction from the police department was necessary because the posts don’t reflect the opinions of anyone at the police department or with the town.
“We cannot let one person tarnish the reputation of Winfield and its police department,” he said. “People that know Winfield know that it’s not like that here, and for this one person to change that perspective is not right.”
Arthur said he hopes Garcelon can become a productive member of society.
“It just will not be here at the Winfield Police Department,” he said.
During Tuesday’s COVID-19 press briefing, the West Virginia National Guard’s adjutant general, Maj. Gen. James Hoyer, said appropriate disciplinary action would be taken against Garcelon “and any other Guard members that make inflammatory comments related to protests going on across the nation.”
Hoyer added that the Guard has social media guidelines for its members.
“That’ll be used in what we address, and it’s pretty clear for members what guidelines they should follow related to living the Army and the Air Force values,” he said.
U.S. Attorney Mike Stuart issued a statement Tuesday supporting police and demonstrators.
“A few bad apples don’t ruin an orchard,” his statement said, adding, “99.99% of police and law enforcement are noble public servants, and 99.99% of the protesters are noble concerned Americans who love their country and are deeply troubled by George Floyd’s death. The vast majority of police and the vast majority of protesters are law-abiding, caring people.”
Protests have been taking place across the country in recent days after Floyd’s death. Floyd, who was black, died after a white now-former police officer placed his knee on Floyd’s neck for an extended period of time during an arrest.