Internal Affairs Investigates 3 Police Officers for Facebook Rant against Khamis

An angry Facebook post directed at San Jose Councilman Johnny Khamis has led to three San Jose police officers being investigated by the department’s Internal Affairs division.

On Oct. 28, officer Tim Ramos posted the following to his personal Facebook page: “Today officers put down flowers at Fontana park on the anniversary of Officer Fontana being killed in the line of duty at Almaden Valley….And Councilmember Johnny Khamis was nowhere to be found. He represents that area but I guess he had better things to do.”

The status update has so far resulted in 13 comments, some of which were posted under the Facebook accounts of two other SJPD officers, Rick Foster and Robert McAlavey. In the first comment, Foster writes, “F that POS!”

Two comments later, McAlavey agrees. “I concur, Fuck that piece of shit!!!!”

The officers’ comments appear to be in conflict with the San Jose Police Department’s policy on social media. Although not in the Duty Manual, a 2009 memo from former Police Chief Rob Davis outlines the department’s policy on social media. “A member’s conduct, either on or off duty, which adversely reflects upon the Department will be deemed conduct unbecoming an officer,” Davis wrote. “Each case of misconduct will be examined to determine if the act was such that a reasonable person would find such conduct was unbecoming a police officer.”

The memo adds that “the Department has a right to regulate speech in certain circumstances which could result in discipline.”

Khamis, whose Facebook page was linked in the post, responded to the officers later that day. “I was not invited and was not aware of the presentation,” he wrote. “I would appreciate the benefit of the doubt.”

This set off more comments from Foster and Ramos

“As a council person concerned about the police dept. you should know the date an officer had fallen protecting your neighborhood,” Ramos wrote. “Nancy pile was never reminded but there every time. But I’m sure your too busy trying to figure out after measure B is found illegal how your going to spin it. Reed will be gone soon so who is going to shovel all the lies to you to spread? Just keep your head in the sand when it comes to public safety.” (sic)

Nancy Pyle was the previous councilmember for Almaden and District 10, and Khamis is in his first term since winning last year’s election to succeed her. He ran on a platform supporting pension reform and Measure B.

Later in the post, Ramos admits that it was a “quiet ceremony” without “cameras or political points to score.”

“It’s every year chief,” he adds. “Put it in your busy calander between photo ops and polishing Reeds shoes.” (sic)

Heather Randol, a police information officer with SJPD, confirmed Tuesday morning that Internal Affairs is investigating the three officers. While she could not provide any details on the investigation, the timing of the post and comments—which are time and date stamped—could be an issue. SJPD officers are not allowed to post to social media while on duty.

“Additionally, Department members are reminded that City Policy Manual Chapter 1.6.2 prohibits employees from using City cell phones, computers or other City-owned equipment for personal use or private business,” Davis’ memo reads. “Therefore, employees may be subject to discipline for such actions. Members should also be reminded that accessing social networking sites for personal use while on-duty is a violation of Duty Manual Section C 1432, which prohibits employees from devoting any on-duty time to any activity that doesn’t relate to a police function.”

Khamis’ chief of staff, Shane Patrick Connolly, says the Facebook comments are “absolutely inappropriate.”

“We don’t have any problem if somebody disagrees with us—people have the right to free speech,” he adds. “But it really reflects poorly on the department to use vulgarities at the councilmember in a public forum. It’s not conduct that is becoming of anyone who is representing the city.”

This isn’t the first time SJPD officers’ use of social media has come into question. Last year, Mayor Chuck Reed received a traffic ticketthat was leaked to the media and posted to Twitter.

Josh Koehn is the managing editor for San Jose Inside and Metro Silicon Valley. Email tips to [email protected] or follow him on Twitter at @Josh_Koehn.

34 Comments

  1. This whole thing is very very sad. I honestly think there needs to be some kind of intervention done here to bring everyone together. Our Officers and our City are in deep trouble.

    I am very concerned about these types of unresolved issues, and how they continue to affect our citizens, our PD, and our City leaders. So which side is going to be the first one to make an effort to bring an end to this war before someone really gets hurt here?

    • Kathleen valid points. Would it not have been easier for Khamis as a leader to step up and say. Hey am sorry I goofed up, it will not happen again. I hear you guys are upset. So sorry for the loss of life.  Instead of this memorial day now marks when Khamis is crying about the officers calling him on not being there?  And now 3 outstanding police officers have to defend themselves.

  2. Whaaaa, whaaaaa…the bad police officers said things on my facebook page that I didn’t like. I have to find a way to get back at them. I’m going to run tell my mommy, or maybe I will just report them. Whaaaa, whaaaa.

    • As far as Khamis is concerned , if it acts like a weasel , talks like a weasel , walks like a weasel and looks like a weasel , then it must be a weasel !

  3. This really does show you what a *&^^%#$%@ Khamis is .  Khamis is offended ???? well Im offended at what He and the rest of Reeds hand puppets have done to this City and its Public Safety. Shane Patrick Connolly ,  its only inappropriate in your eyes. For those residents watching what is being done to this city and its employees , its 100% correct

  4. But the bottom line is Khamis is who he is.  While I disagree with the vulgarity of the comments I agree with the sentiment of the message they are trying to get across. Police officers are being forced into overtime, denied vacation time off and comp time off at an alarming rate. Maybe discipline is the only way they can get the time off they so truly need and deserve. Will the city continue to shoot itself in the foot and further reduce the street cops because Khamis is cry baby? We will have to wait and see.

  5. Tim and I have some mutual friends. Don’t know him personally, but from what I hear he’s a good guy.  There’s no reason to sensationalize this Josh.  You know I haven’t posted here in a LONG while, but this one is personal.

    Khamis, you don’t want to get on my bad side.  Just drop this immediately.  When I make threats, they’re purely, “I’m going to mess with you politically” type threats, all fair play, no bodily or property harm.  I talk to people, I write letters, I organize campaigns.  Now armed with a day job that provides me a very decent salary, you would not want me forming, “The Recall Johnny Khamis PAC”  I could fund that in a heartbeat… I’m sure Braunstien would love to run this well funded PAC. My current salary blows your council salary out of the water. It’s a dirty trick you’re trying to pull just to quiet this guy.  Knock it off.

    Tim,  Give the man the benefit of the doubt.  A few weeks back I saw you tag him in a facebook post, and I asked both of you to consider how you’re degrading the dignity of your posts.  In the future Tim, make sure you have Khamis unfriended, and any of these types of posts you need to set them to “Friends Only” 

    Overall though, I’m sticking with Tim on this. Khamis if you don’t drop this, you’re going to be very sorry.

    • He is definitely NOT a seasoned politician. Politicians are the butt of jokes, scathes and who knows what, that comes from the public…constantly. They expect it, they ignore it, they move on. This man needs to man up and grow as couple. I’d bet he was one of those little kids in school who ran to the teacher to tattle everything every kid was doing. Man up Khamis. You don’t see your colleagues running and tattling about everything someone has said about them. You should be embarrassed. You are now officially one of the clowns.

    • Cortese, is that really you? Because as far as stupid internet comments go, forget Khamis and your friend Tim—yours might take the cake. I’m surprised a frontrunner candidate for mayor of the 10th largest US city would make a comment like this, seeing as it sounds like it was written by a 12 year old kid responding to a stranger who smack-talked him on YouTube or XBox Live.

      Let’s compare:

      “you don’t want to get on my bad side … I talk to people, I write, I organize campaigns … you would not want me forming, “The Recall Johnny Khamis PAC”  I could fund that in a heartbeat … My current salary blows your council salary out of the water”

      vs.

      “you don’t want to get on my bad side … I do karate, I fight MMA, I lift weights … you would not want me getting my gang together because I could in a heartbeat … I bench-press 250, much more than your puny twig-armed self”

      You’re not using violent threats, of course, but you’re wielding (what you think is) a position of power to wade into a really petty, inconsequential slow news day story. Not defending Khamis, but at the end of the day, both of you look pretty silly.

      I’d hope that as mayor, you’d spend less time making childish threats on the internet and more time, you know, governing.

      In case Cortese edits or deletes, here’s a screenshot: http://imgur.com/9Wp2hAi

  6. Talk about crying to Internal Affairs.  None of the officer posted that they were SJPD officers.  They posted off duty from their own accounts.  Is this not America where Freedom of Speech is allowed.  Khamis was made to look like a fool in youtube video when he was at public meeting and said the cops were not leaving because of measure B. On Duty Lt. called him on his lie.  So take public office and them make sure no one says anything bad about you.  Khamis just do what Constant and Oliverio do.  They just delete any negative post. 

    So the cops are really pissed that the council person did not show up to the police memorial.  Instead of apologizing Khamis decides lets screw those nasty cops for insulting me. 

    And some journalism here would show that Councilperson Khamis aide, Shane Patrick Connolly, Post a lot of negative anti-police crap.  So who is calling the kettle black?

    • LOL at all the cops and cop supporters who don’t think cops should have to follow their own rules.  Pretty par for the course. SJPD and the city are having a race to the bottom to see who can come out looking worse.  Keep it up guys.. the citizens of this city sure appreciate it…

  7. Maybe the police of Chief should have told him since he is clueless on what goes on in almaden.  Maybe the police chief should tell Khamis that the cops think he is a POS. 

    can we say that Sanjose inside?  This blog believes in free speech correct?

  8. I feel horrible. Despite being aware that the Facebook accounts of certain officers were about to be hacked, I failed to issue a warning. To those three officers facing an internal inquiry, if any of you are innocent victims of hacking all I can do is issue my apologies.

  9. In the first place, as seems exceedingly clear from the article and the screen captures, the officers in question were posting on a page created by one of their own and, while it was directed at Johnny Khamis, it certainly was not posted directly on his page. As such, regardless of the profanity employed to express what might accurately be described as a deep and abiding loathing for the council occupier, the speech in question must be considered to be free speech. Otherwise, any attempt to enforce these rules as ‘conduct unbecoming an officer’ become a slippery slope enabling the city to regulate and control the speech of officers all day every day of their lives simply because of their positions as officers. Frankly, officers undergo enough scrutiny in their professional lives without placing their personal lives under the microscope for what is, in the end non-criminal and constitutionally-protected speech.

    That being said, I think it is interesting that, of all the Council members hated by city employees and – especially by public safety, Johnny Khamis is the only one who has done the things he’s done: attempt to extort money out of the POA and Local 230 for one of his perferred charities as an apology for a political mailer to which he took offense, file an Internal Affairs complaint against one of the most respected members of SJPD’s command staff for simply disagreeing with Khamis publicly at a community meeting, and now, this.

    Make no mistake: public safety holds most of the rest of the councile: Reed, Nguyen, Oliverio, Liccardo, Constant, and Herrera in exactly the same low regard as Khamis, yet Khamis is the only one who’s complained to Internal Affairs no once, but twice, simply because he got his feelings hurt. Every single one of those other council members has been subject of the same parody, distrust and disdain. Cops have been far from silent in terms of how much they hate each and every one of them. But, Khamis is the only one who’s gone whining to IA like IA was his mommy, going to protect him from having his thin skin penetrated and his feelings hurt. He is clearly neither adult enough nor thick-skinned enough to be able to handle the challenges of his position or the animosity he’s voluntarily earned by taking his anti-public employee anti-public safety positions on the Council.

    It seems he is surprised at how much he is hated, but how could it be otherwise? He’s lied about city finances right alongside Reed and the rest. He’s whined about getting his feelings hurt and it’s clear he only values free speech so long as that speech doesn’t get those feelings hurt. More than that, he’s clearly willing to indulge in extortion politics, which puts him at about the same level of character as your average mid-level organized crime flunky. No wonder cops hate him.

    • HAHAHA Officer Anonymous.. I’m sure you would happily beat or tear gas someone trying to exercise their “constitutionally-protected speech”… but when it comes to your cop buddies and their speech, LET FREEDOM RING!!!  No wonder people hate cops..

      • I love how you make a wild assumption about me and, alongside of me, my brethren based on certain obvious prejudices you hold. It has about as much merit as if I made an assumption that you must sympathize with the Occupy Movement, based on your comments. The reality is that, just as I know nothing of you, your beliefs or your actions in furtherance of your beliefs, you know NOTHING of me, my beliefs, my solemn oath to defend the Constitution, what learning and education I might have undertaken to understand the implications of that oath or what I believe my obligations are with respect to any or all of the Bill of Rights.

        The fact of the matter is that I’ve never impeded anyone’s lawful exercise of Constitutionally-protected freedoms. But you also need to understand that there are certain lawful limits placed on each and every one of those freedoms. As Zechariah Chafee, Jr. stated in the Harvard Law Review in 1919, “Your right to swing your arms ends just where the other man’s nose begins.”

        I have no problem with the free exercise of Constitutionally-protected freedoms so long as doing so does not impinge on another persons free exercise of their freedoms or create an unjustified loss of use of public spaces, or deprive others of the use of their private property. I’m pretty sure the vast majority of my peers feel the same way.

  10. The rank and file’s support for Chief Esquivel is already starting to wane due to his refusal to speak out about the crisis facing SJPD. His handling of this situation will be critical in determining whether that support will evaporate completely, or whether he can reverse that trend and become the leader the department so desperately needs. These officers expressed personal views while off-duty. When you become a police officer, you swear an oath to protect the United States Constitution. Let’s hope the Chief upholds his oath.

  11. The last time the Honorable Councilmember Khamis was in the news for communications with police officers wasn’t he demanding a donation and admission/apology from POA President Unland and VP Robb after falsely accusing them of “being racist” towards him? 

    http://www.siliconvalley.com/scott-herhold/ci_22359973/san-jose-councilman-johnny-khamis-battles-police-and

    Seems like he has an axe to grind. I personally have been targeted by his “Chief of Staff” Shane Patrick Connolly who Trolled Facebook ON CITY TIME (when he was Pete Constant’s Staffer)  then lied to Facebook about some posts I made that he didn’t like and which resulted in a previous account being deactivated permanently along with other accounts that were linked to my cell phone.

    Word to the wise: These folks at City Hall HATE YOU and will go to great lengths to seek out any information that they can use against you – worse they will use the police departments own rules, regs and investigators to do the dirty work…  BE SMART!

  12. First of all the postings were on someone elses Facebook page. Secondly the memo put out by Davis was not implemented as formal policy as is required by it’s inclusion in the Duty Manual. Given the fact it was implemented by Davis, it probably wasn’t legal to start with. He was the worst Chief in the history of the agency. Clueless and suffered from terminal hubris.

    Conduct unbecoming does not prohibit officers from engaging in political off duty conduct. These comments are directed towards a politician and should be strictly construed as falling in the area of political discourse.

    Khamis is famously known for his thin skinned and “I’m a victim of racism” rants. He would be better served by growing a pair and becoming more attuned to the issues of the city rather than engaging in the further destruction of the police department.

  13. In my opinion, any disciplinary action brought on these officers would be in error.  Council member Khamis’ actions (or lack there of) to not attend a fallen offices vigil is of public concern.  Just as much as Council Member Khamis’ spending public tax dollars to visit Ireland is of public concern. It demonstrates the lack of integrity of an elected official.  Did the comments from these officers outweigh the interest of the police department in maintaining morale, efficiency and discipline?  I think not.

    I think this case is different then the rest I have read.  These are off duty officers (I presume) expressing their views about an elected official.  Nothing to do about the police department.  Nothing that implies a threat. They merely have a strong distaste for Khamis.  Nothing out of the norm I don’t think.  The interesting question is where does the IPA fit into this?

    Hey David Wall, I bet you are glad you are not a police officer.  Actually, I’m glad your not a police officer or else they would try to put a muzzle on you. 

     

    Judge Weighs Alabama City’s Case Over Police Officer’s Facebook Posts
    http://www.insurancejournal.com/news/southeast/2013/10/31/309946.htm

    EPA officer faced discipline over Facebook comment.
    http://www.ktvu.com/news/news/peninsula-detective-faces-discipline-over-open-car/nK57x/

  14. During my first six months as a rookie cop I made a car stop in front of David Wall’s house.  I had no idea who he was or what he was about.  There were a couple of parolees in the car I was more concerned with.  Guess who came outside and stood in the driveway in his overall’s?  David Wall. 

    He was there making me sure I didn’t get my rookie butt kicked, and stood by the whole time.  He even told me he would be my “fill” and would lend a hand if something went sideways.  When I was finished he encouraged me by telling me how professional of an organization I was working for in the SJPD.  I could tell he loved this City and was a strong supporter of the men and women who protected it.  Thanks David for all you do for this City and SJPD/FD.  David Wall could be my “Fill” any day.  We need more good Americans like David to be the voice of reason.

  15. I don’t think anyone has really come out very well in this affair.

    I will say that the police should have invited Mr. Khamis, but that as the Councilman representing D10, its a little surprising this was so off his radar.  You’d think one of his guys (friend, staffer, colleague, constituent, whatever) would have mentioned this to him.  It suggests he may need to expand his pool of guys a bit, so to speak, in order to keep in better touch with life in Almaden.

  16. are you kidding me, council member does not know when an officer is killed.  I remember all 7 during mu career, you disgust me.

  17. I find it chilling that an officer’s private Facebook page is subject to being investigated for using nothing more than profanity to describe their feelings towards Johnny Khamis. Is Johnny going to show up at the officer’s houses, demanding they turn over their personal mail for inspection? Is the good councilman going to monitor the officer’s personal phone conversations and report the officers to the authorities if they speak ill will of their feelings towards him? Is Johnny going to hack into the officer’s personal email accounts, to monitor if these officers use a bad word to describe their feelings of him? This is just plain scary that an elected official is using his authority to demand an investigation of somebody’s personal Facebook website, because he does not like what is being said about him. Where is the ACLU? Where are the editorials in the press, blasting Khamis for infringing on the rights of free speech? These officers did nothing wrong, and only expressed to each other in a private forum their feeling towards an elected official, who is now using his power to investigate these officers.

  18. Politicians have to attend events where they aren’t welcome, and politicians get criticized when they don’t show up for those sorts of events.  That’s an unwritten rule.

    The other unwritten rule is that if you are criticized for not showing up to one of those events, you have to buck up, shut up, and take it.

    Next time show up.  If you don’t want to show up or just plain forget to go; just take take it.  It makes you look small when you don’t.

    People can say what they want about Reed, but Reed when to shut up and take it.