Detroit police chief fires officer for offensive social media post

'Another night to (wrangle) up these zoo animals,' the post reads

DETROIT – Detroit Police Chief James Craig said an officer who posted an offensive comment to social media has been fired from the department.

Sean Bostwick, who was new recruit to the Detroit Police Department, was taken off the job Sunday after sending an offensive message on Snapchat. The comment referred to Detroit residents as "zoo animals."

The department said it first became aware of the incident Sunday afternoon and moved quickly to suspend Bostwick. During a news conference Monday afternoon, Chief Craig said he met with the officer and decided to fire him. 

"He is off of our payroll effective tomorrow morning," Craig said. 

Craig called the post "very troubling." He said he immediately called for internal affairs to investigate, and then called for a confirmation hearing with the officer during which he was fired. 

"Yes, he did express some remorse ... he admitted that he did this," said Craig. "Our officers were deeply troubled by his comment."

Many police officers were praising the decision and are disgusted by the post.

"I want him fired," said retired Detroit police officer Wilbur Medley.

Medley was a police officer for 18 years, retiring in 2017.

"We're out here right now. I don't see any zoo animals," Medley said. "What are you talking about when you say 'zoo animals?'"

Medley was shocked to see the photo on social media. Bostwick works in Detroit's 12th precinct, patrolling Medley's community. The father of three said he's worried about his sons and others in the neighborhood.

"If he's looking at us like zoo animals, who is to say he won't do something bad?" Medley asked.

Medley now works for the Detroit Public Safety Academy, a vocational high school for students interested in law enforcement.

"How can I stand before them and tell them, 'We are here for you,' and then I see a young officer who posted something so offensive?" Medley asked.

As a lifelong resident of Detroit, Medley said while the post is offensive, it does not reflect the values of the Detroit Police Department protecting the city. 

"Other cops care about this city," Medley said. "Because we have a great investment in it. You can’t take this and say, 'This is what Detroit cops think of you.' No, this is what this cop thinks, and he should be removed."

About the Authors:

Priya joined WDIV-Local 4 in 2013 as a reporter and fill-in anchor. Education: B.A. in Communications/Post Grad in Advanced Journalism