Baltimore County Executive Johnny Olszewski Jr. said Tuesday that county police are investigating a Twitter account that has posted messages he called “hateful” and advocacy groups called “outrageous” and “blatantly racist.”
Various tweets from the Twitter account @TedWaga — which self-identifies the author as a county police officer — have come under fire from various groups. The account has tweeted homophobic slurs and called for “modern day crusades.”
One tweet account asks: “What would happen if the men in America took action and began rounding up illegals and tossing them back over the border?”
A previous post states: “Illegals are responsible for rapes and murders of thousands of Americans.”
“Hateful, violent, and abusive language has no place in our government or society and I have zero tolerance for it,” Olszewski said in a statement. He said police are investigating the matter.
Police have not confirmed that the author of the Twitter account is employed by the force, but spokesman Shawn Vinson confirmed that a sergeant with the last name Waga is assigned to the department’s Cockeysville Precinct.
An early post from the account links to a 2012 campaign website for Ted Waga, of York County, Pa., during a failed bid in a Republican congressional primary. The website identifies the candidate as a Baltimore County police sergeant.
Reached through a phone number listed on the campaign site, Waga did not deny the Twitter account belonged to him. He said he did not want to discuss the situation if there was an ongoing investigation, then added he is “not one to hate anybody, but I have my beliefs and I’m going to stand up for them.”
The Twitter account later posted an item stating: “I do not harbor hate towards anyone regardless of their race, religion, sex or sexual preference nor for any other reason.”
Another post stated: “I will be making a concerted effort to reign in the colorful language that I have used in previous tweets while still fervently supporting [Donald Trump] as well as conservative principles.”
Lydia Walther-Rodriguez, lead regional organizer for CASA of Maryland — an organization that advocates for Latin and immigrant people in Maryland, called the tweets “blatantly racist.”
Walther-Rodriguez said that if Waga is a police officer: “He needs to be disciplined, he needs to be fired.”
She said when public officials and police officers make statements like the ones tweeted by the account, it makes immigrants and other people of color less likely to contact police if they need to report a crime, because they feel like they’re putting themselves at risk of racial profiling or other consequences if they do.
Zainab Chaudry, director of Maryland outreach with the Council on American-Islamic Relations, called the tweets “outrageous.”
“CAIR condemns these tweets and is calling for a public apology and facilitated dialogue with local American-Muslim faith leaders,” she said in a statement.
On Friday, an anonymous Twitter account sent a series of screenshots of the @TedWaga account to the county police Twitter account. Police responded to the anonymous account, asking the sender for contact information and saying, “We would like to speak with you regarding this.”
Vinson declined Tuesday to comment on the investigation, and also declined to say whether such comments from a police officer would result in disciplinary action because it is a “personnel issue.”
Instead, he referred to the department’s general conduct policy, which states department members must “treat everyone with respect and dignity in an unbiased manner.”
Conduct that “reflects discredit upon the Department or its members… will be considered conduct unbecoming a member of the Police Department of Baltimore County and subject to disciplinary action by the Chief of Police,” the policy states.
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Vinson said the police department teaches police recruits about the “personal use of social media as part of the police academy curriculum.”