PALMER — Palmer Police Chief Dwayne Shelton has returned to duty after being placed on administrative leave with pay on June 1. The city of Palmer released a statement early Monday morning featuring an apology from Shelton after remarks made on his personal Facebook page sparked outrage among the Palmer community.
“I apologize to each of you for any mistrust or concern my past social media posts have caused you,” wrote Shelton. “We all deserve to be treated fairly and with respect.”
Shelton said that he had always taken his responsibility as a police officer seriously and never treated people differently based on their social statuses, sexual orientation, gender, race, or any other demographic. Shelton also wrote that additional training will be added to the yearly curriculum to reduce the likelihood of malfeasance within the city of Palmer or the Palmer Police Department.
“The recent events of minority deaths caused by law enforcement and Facebook comments by Dwayne Shelton brought these issues to our front door. They will be addressed. We at the city of Palmer will be listening and seeing how our policies and procedures are causing unequal treatment. We do not have all the answers. However, as public servants we will strive to obtain those answers to enact change,” wrote Palmer Manager John Moosey.
Moosey writes in the press release that city of Palmer employees will undergo an educational program to allow employees to understand all personal racism and bias and provide an oversight to police activities by expanding the hiring process to include non-public safety personnel. The PPD will review all department use of force and provide functional, up to date and operable body cameras for use.
“Law enforcement has no place for prejudices, excessive force, or abuse of powers. I will not tolerate any portion of it. I encourage anyone who knows of any misconduct by law enforcement to make their complaints known. The best way to make a report is to take your complaints to the officials of the offending department, the state of Alaska Ombudsman’s office, the commissioner of Public Safety or the Alaska Police Standards Council,” wrote Shelton.
The press release further states that the city of Palmer will review all formal complaints and that law enforcement officers involved in domestic abuse shall be placed on administrative leave, prosecuted and terminated if found guilty in accordance with Alaska State Statute. The city of Palmer’s human resources department will begin a review of all formal complaints and Moosey wrote that he expects to share the city of Palmer’s experience with members of the Alaska Municipal League to learn and positively impact other community leaders in the state of Alaska.
“It is a decision that was made by the city manager after a full and careful review,” wrote Moosey.