A Lincoln police officer has been cleared after officials investigated whether his Facebook activity violated city policies, according to a statement released by the City of Lincoln on Wednesday.
The city attorney reviewed Officer Greg Gunn’s case earlier this week on whether Gunn’s Facebook posts against candidates for city council violated the city’s personnel policy. The attorney found no violations and said Gunn’s statements were made in a personal capacity and not an official capacity, the statement said.
Gunn, the brother of TV judge Mary Ann Gunn, has several posts on Facebook that speak out against candidates running for seats on the Lincoln City Council. In response to one post by Timothy Smith, a city council candidate, Gunn wrote, “Make this clear. I will not vote for you guys. I will avoid you like the plague. I will not work for you.”
The statement released by the city refuted an earlier 5NEWS report that Gunn was under investigation. Gunn, the statement clarified, was under review for possible city policy violations.
Arkansas law protects the political free speech rights of police officers when they are not acting in an official capacity, the release states.
City council member Laurie Smith said some local citizens have expressed concern to their council members that Gunn’s posts make them feel uncomfortable. Some people also believe their support for candidates Gunn stands against could cause the police department to discriminate against them, two city council candidates said.
Multiple Lincoln residents contacted 5NEWS with personal stories about in-person police discrimination against people supporting certain candidates, but none would go on the record.
In response to a Facebook post promoting the city council candidacies of Kris Roy, Timothy Smith, Matthew Hudgens and Smith, Gunn wrote, “I will not vote for you people. I will not work for you either.”
In another post about the candidates running for office, Gunn wrote, “Yep, the group running for city council the ones with new faces want to take you to new places, yep they will take you around the bowl right through the hole.”
Smith said one local woman is afraid to openly support Smith with a yard sign, for fear of police retaliation.
On his profile page, Gunn downplays his Facebook activity, saying, “Ok listen to me, if you don’t like what I put on F/B stay off of it.”
The city council went into executive session Monday to discuss Gunn’s situation. No action was taken, and the council recommended the city attorney review the case.
5NEWS unsuccessfully attempted to contact city officials Wednesday. Lincoln police said they will not comment on the situation. Messages to Gunn on Tuesday and Wednesday went unanswered.
The City of Lincoln’s statement to the media Wednesday:
Contrary to a story carried on KFSM/5newsonline.com, Officer Greg Gunn is not “under investigation” by the City of Lincoln, Arkansas. On Monday evening, October 8, 2012, the Lincoln City Council did go into executive session to address concerns raised by Alderman Laurie Smith. At the end of the Executive Session, the City Council re-convened and took no action, other than to request the City Attorney to review the officer’s actions for violations of the City’s Personnel Policy. The City Attorney responded that no violations of the Personnel Policy had occurred. Mr. Gunn’s statements were made in his personal capacity and not in any type of official capacity. Arkansas Code Annotated §14-52-109 protects the political free speech rights of a police officer when not acting in an official capacity. The matter ended there.