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PA Police Chief Needs to Be Fired

The chief of police of Gilberton, Pennsylvania needs to be fired. Immediately. The mayor says she can’t do that because of the First Amendment, but she’s wrong and I’ll explain why. But take a look at how this police chief is behaving toward the people he is sworn to protect:

Kessler has uploaded several profanity-laced videos to YouTube. In one video, Kessler berates “libtards” and warns of an armed rebellion against the government.

“F*ck all you libtards out there, as a matter of fact, read my shirt,” he says, turning around to show a message on his back which read, “Liberals take it in the a**.”

“You take it in the ass and I don’t give a f*ck what you say so you can all just go f*ck yourselves. Period. I wont be going to D.C. and I don’t give a f*ck. If you f*cking maniacs want to turn this into an armed revolt, knock yourselves out. I’m not about that, so see you on the other side.”

In a video on basic pistol defense, Kessler repeatedly shoots a picture of scary clown, which he says is Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D-CA). He calls Secretary of State John Kerry a “c*cksucker” in another video before firing off an automatic weapon.

Tuesday on his Facebook page, Kessler called for a massive rally to “show these tyrants we will not stand for any more violations on our constitution or our freedoms.”

“I’m calling on all true Americans , all militia members, all true oath keepers to assemble, be ready to march on a tyrannical county government right here in Schuylkill county Pennsylvania, democrats are the true enemy of our country, our freedoms, our constitution, along with liberal news agency’s , liberal news reporters, much like hitlers nazis , time we clean these antiamerican thugs from office,” he wrote.

Nope, not free speech. For a regular citizen, this is absolutely protected speech and it is for him as well in the sense that he can’t be prosecuted for it. But he can damn sure be fired for it. But he is actively and viciously demeaning and threatening the very people he is legally obliged to protect. There are no doubt lots of Democrats and liberals in that town and he has made it crystal clear that he views them not as citizens with equal rights but as enemies to be eliminated. Fire him. Today.

Comments

  1. Evan Brehm says

    This is the type of shit you see posted on the forums of Moonbattery or Free Republic.

  2. cheesynougats says

    Actually, there is another reason to at least reprimand Kessler, if it’s true. The weapons he uses in those videos are all fully automatic. If they are his, he’s breaking the law. If they belong to the police, he’s misusing county property.

  3. Abby Normal says

    I’ve got to disagree. Firing him based solely on his off-hours performance art would be like firing a teacher for writing erotic stories on their own time. Unless there’s some evidence that their private expression is interfering with their professional duties, I don’t think it would be ethical. I agree the Mayor’s First Amendment argument is weak at best and she probably has the legal authority to fire him. I just don’t think she has a good reason to.

  4. howard says

    @4

    Actually, those weapons are legal if they’re department weapons (which I understand from articles elsewhere to be the case). Because although private ownership is banned, ownership by a governmental entity is not.

    But it just makes this even more WTF.

    Unless there’s some evidence that their private expression is interfering with their professional duties, I don’t think it would be ethical

    …first, he says he doesn’t care about liberals. (many of whom he is sworn to protect, yes?)

    Then he calls on people to rise up and forcibly remove elected office holders.

    And you don’t think this perhaps reflects on attitudes that might be problematic in terms of his professional duties to protect law and order?

  5. sigurd jorsalfar says

    I think an argument can be made that he can be fired for a loss of confidence in his ability to adequately protect the citizens of his jurisdiction. After all, he hates about half of them and seems to harbor a fantasy of shooting them. Arguably he is not just unqualified for his job, but dangerously so. Keeping him employed could even be negligence on the part of his employer.

    I don’t think it’s a simple matter of saying his otherwise ‘absolutely protected’ right to free speech is somehow overridden by him being a police officer. I think a private security guard could be fired for making this video too. That is, I don’t think speech absolutely protects one from being fired from one’s job. Protected speech that demonstrates that you are unsuited (esp dangerously unsuited) to your job can always be grounds for dismissal regardless of what job you have.

  6. Reginald Selkirk says

    Actually, those weapons are legal if they’re department weapons (which I understand from articles elsewhere to be the case).

    WTAE

    The weapons in the video are legal weapons and belong to the police department after he purchased them with his own money and donated them in a transaction approved by the borough council, Hannon said.

  7. says

    Firing him based solely on his off-hours performance art would be like firing a teacher for writing erotic stories on their own time.

    Only if those erotic stories contained demeaning words toward their students, and calls for threats or armed action against those students or anyone else. If the said erotic stories contain no such threatening rhetoric, then your analogy is invalid.

  8. Abby Normal says

    howard @9

    And you don’t think this perhaps reflects on attitudes that might be problematic in terms of his professional duties to protect law and order?

    Might be, absolutely. I’d even grant, probably is. And if there are problems then it should be relatively simple to find examples and fire him for those. Or perhaps he puts aside his personal feelings when he’s on duty and does his job like a professional. Perhaps these videos are simply a cathartic release, or a fantasy exaggerated for effect. They are his art. There’s a world of difference between “might be” and “is.” When it comes to taking away a person’s livelihood I think we should strive for more than “might.” I think we should be reasonably sure we’re not just punishing someone for expressing ideas we don’t like.

  9. lorn says

    Unless there is some state or local law outlawing owning fully automatic weapons they may very well be perfectly legal for him to own as a private citizen. The federal government doesn’t outlaw ownership of automatic weapons. They just make it more expensive and complicated to do it legally. You have to be specially registered and you pay a pretty substantial extra fee for each weapon. I go to a range where people have perfectly legal automatic weapons. Finding a place where the landowner or range owner allows fully-auto is a different story.

    His advocacy of removing elected officials and implied unwillingness to protect all of his constituents equally, even the liberals, do represent, IMHO, a reason for dismissal.

  10. beergoggles says

    I’m guessing there is no recourse if he’s not fired. Unless it can be proven that he’s actually not performing his duties for part of the citizenry, just insulting a group of people doesn’t make him culpable of anything that is illegal. So it’s unfortunate that he has the backing of the only person there who could fire him.

  11. karpad says

    Juvenile as it might be, I find myself wondering about his shirt.
    Why would your shirt, with the message “Liberals take it in the ass” be formatted in such a way that it was easy to read whilst the wearer was receiving anal sex? I mean, there is literally no reason to position a declaration of “Group X takes it in the ass” immediately above said ass, unless you’re a member of that group and are advertising.

    I’m probably overthinking this.

    Firing him based solely on his off-hours performance art would be like firing a teacher for writing erotic stories on their own time.

    By which you mean “legal, common, and often requiring far less justification than even this?” Teachers are fired for merely going to bars in their off hours when seen by students or even the parents of students. Many teacher contracts include “morality clauses” which justify exactly this. And while internet free speech mavens (which generally includes myself) might balk at the teacher firing. “erotic fiction” is nebulous enough to include “a teacher writing stories about a teacher violently sexually assaulting teenagers.” Which would not be even remotely controversial beyond the shock of “how was this person hired in the first place?”

    The idea that someone is acting so contrary to their profession is absolutely grounds for termination. A teacher using “free speech” to glorify hateful destruction of students, the very people they are supposed to mold and build into adults, a police officer (let alone chief) rather than promoting peace and order in the community, calling for armed insurrection, and encouraging people from outside his community to come in and carry about this act of violence? That is literally the opposite of his job.

  12. cptdoom says

    I’m calling on all true Americans , all militia members, all true oath keepers to assemble, be ready to march on a tyrannical county government right here in Schuylkill county Pennsylvania, democrats are the true enemy of our country, our freedoms, our constitution, along with liberal news agency’s , liberal news reporters, much like hitlers nazis , time we clean these antiamerican thugs from office.

    This comes very close – if not crossing the line – to incitement to riot. Certainly if he said those words in front of a group of armed people, rather than into the cyberworld, it would likely no longer be protected speech (note, IANAL, so don’t know the precedents here). It is clearly enough to fire him, as he is nearly arguing for a government overthrow.

  13. kyoseki says

    It’s not illegal for private citizens to own automatic weapons (except in CA & NY), all you need is the signature of the local chief of police.

    So that’s handy.

    I am curious as to why he bought the firearms and then donated them to the department though.

    Insofar as I’m aware, if a police department wants automatic weapons for department use, they’re not constrained by the same rules as private citizens, so they don’t have to buy the civilian market automatics (which are very expensive), they can simply buy factory new automatics for far less money.

  14. Moggie says

    The weapons in the video are legal weapons and belong to the police department after he purchased them with his own money and donated them in a transaction approved by the borough council, Hannon said.

    “Boss, if I pay for some cool toys, can I get to play with them?”

  15. A. Noyd says

    A better analogy would be a teacher who writes erotic fiction starring themself having sex with kids the same age as the ones in their class. And who also speaks out about how kids want sex just as much as adults and totally understand consent. And that, no matter what those intolerant lawmakers say, sex with adults helps rather than hurts kids.

  16. says

    Or perhaps he puts aside his personal feelings when he’s on duty and does his job like a professional.

    …Or you just exist in a fantasy world. This is fucking nonsense, and calling it art doesn’t change that it’s an outright statement that a sizable, and nominally identifiable section of his constituents aren’t worth protecting, while also stating that there should be an uprising (which is counter to his job entirely, yes).

  17. Synfandel says

    If they decide to dismiss him, they’d better keep a close eye on him. He looks a hair’s-breadth away from going postal.

  18. jnorris says

    He is breaking the law if the weapons he used to make his political videos belong to the government.

  19. Nick Gotts says

    Unless there’s some evidence that their private expression is interfering with their professional duties – Abby Normal

    I’ve seen some stupidity on this blog in the name of Freeze Peach, but I think this takes the biscuit. Part of a police officer’s professional duty is to maintain the confidence of the citizenry that they will exercise their powers impartially.

  20. Abby Normal says

    Rutee Katreya @21 in response to the suggestion that the chief might be able to act professionally on the job.

    Or you just exist in a fantasy world. This is fucking nonsense,

    It seems unlikely, but hardly impossible. We’ve only seen one little slice of this person. I would support a suspension pending the outcome of an investigation. If he’s as ill-suited for the job as you seem to be saying, surely the will be evidence of it. That’s all I’m asking for, evidence of wrongdoing before ending a persons career.

  21. timberwoof says

    It would be interesting if some liberals were to state a protest where he asked people to. They could carry signs denouncing him as a tyrant and hand out literature explaining exactly why he was a tyrant. They’d chant demands for his immediate dismissal.

    He would have them all violently arrested and thrown in jail, and thereby beg for a massive lawsuit. I’d just be scared that he’s the type who order a massacre.

  22. Skip White says

    In the video in the linked article, the “liberals take it in the ass” t-shirt also has a small Confederate flag on the front. Charming.

  23. says

    I have zero confidence he can (or wants to) perform his job impartially. Or well.
    And ten bucks says his nickname is “Spider” or “Squirrel”.
     
    Raging Bee “Only if those erotic stories contained demeaning words toward their students, and calls for threats or armed action against those students or anyone else. If the said erotic stories contain no such threatening rhetoric, then your analogy is invalid.”
    /me runs over to typewriter…

  24. Stacy says

    Unless there’s some evidence that their private expression is interfering with their professional duties

    So if you lived in Gilberton and you were an outspoken liberal (or further to the left than that) you would trust this man to protect you if you needed protection, or to treat you impartially if you were involved in some sort of conflict which involved the police? Seriously?

    How would you feel if you were, for example, a very progressive person–perhaps gay or lesbian or transgender–and you were raped? Would you feel comfortable reporting it to the GPD?

    Gilberton looks to be a town of less than a thousand residents, BTW. Which means probably everybody knows everybody, more or less.

    Not that I think this man is fit to be a police officer–let alone chief–in a larger town. I don’t.

  25. jonhendry says

    ““You take it in the ass and I don’t give a f*ck what you say so you can all just go f*ck yourselves. Period. I wont be going to D.C. and I don’t give a f*ck. If you f*cking maniacs want to turn this into an armed revolt, knock yourselves out. I’m not about that, so see you on the other side.””

    Honestly, I don’t know *what* he’s trying to say here.

    It sounds like he’s talking to people like Kokesh, who *are* talking about an armed revolt, marching on DC.

    It’s incoherent.

  26. Abby Normal says

    I’ve got to move to a better place, where this kind of saber rattling is shockingly rare. I live about an hour or so from this town and all this did was raise an eyebrow for me. For me it was attention grabbing, but quickly filed as “probably harmless.” Little podunk busted coal towns like his are full of rightwing macho shitheads. Hell, if you want to talk about his credibility, in the community he serves he probably just improved it.

    I’m a liberal bisexual male who has trouble biting his tongue. Would I feel safe with him protecting me? Meh, my mistrust is a bit higher than for the average cop. But I’m willing to give him the benefit of the doubt. I don’t know if I know anyone like him. But I know guys who say stupid crap similar to that. They seem to be able to put it aside when we have to deal with each other.

  27. says

    @26

    I can’t speak for civilian law enforcement, per se, but as a member of the military there’s no question that this kind of speech, alone, would be cause for punishment at least under Article 134, but Article 88 and DoD Directive 1344.10. I can’t imagine there aren’t similar limitations for police, and especially police chiefs.

    One of the biggest issues is when a person engages in this kind of extreme speech while identifying as a representative of the government without at least first making it clear that the speech is only your opinion and not necessarily the view of whatever branch of government to which you belong. It seems he was easily identifiable as a member of the police force, especially if he was using their weapons, and there doesn’t seem to be any disclaimer. Even if there was, the fact that the speech was very hateful and threatening toward people he’s supposed to protect should get him fired regardless of whether he acts on those words on the job or not. His personal and VERY public conduct will actively hinder his ability to do his job regardless of his professionalism when he’s in uniform, because anyone who’s not a whack job will most likely see him as a threat.

  28. Childermass says

    He is out of uniform and clearly speaking for himself. Unless he violated a work rule or contractual obligation clearly spelled out in advance, then I am uncomfortable with the notion of firing him.

    Of course if he makes a video in-uniform or implied he is speaking in his official capacity then fire him immediately.

  29. Azkyroth Drinked the Grammar Too :) says

    Or perhaps he puts aside his personal feelings when he’s on duty and does his job like a professional.

    Pull.

    My.

    Finger.

  30. says

    @JNorris:

    Sounds about right.

    This link:

    http://www.chiefkessler.com/

    Is to his CFS website. On the website which, afaia, has no connection to the town government for whom he works he is wearing a uniform with two badges. One of the badges is clipped to his belt, the other is above his left breast pocket. I cannot get the photo to enlarge and render a decent image of either badge. If either of them is one that he wears in an official capacity he is either out of uniform or behaving improperly by implying that his actions are under “color of authority”.

    This link:

    http://www.chiefkessler.com/index.php/csf-information/csf-oath

    is to the page where the CSF oath is displayed.

    I will be delighted to read that the chief pulled over a motorist or answered a call for a “domestic” and had his lights put out by one of his idiotic fellow travelers. It’s bad enough that we have to live in a world where fuckheads having whatever guns they desire is a more important issue than feeding the poor, helping the sick and infirm and guaranteeing our other social, civil and human rights. When you add to that some fucking yahoo who thinks that his bully pulpit comes with the job, well, sow on the wind, reap the whirlwind, moron.

    The town has something like 900+/- residents. I gotta wonder if they have more than one cop (I tried googling and had no luck finding that information).

    The guy has some serious anger management issues and will, eventually, hurt or kill someone because of his macho bullshit posturing requiring validation.

    As for using the departmental weapons, that may be his right–when he’s on duty–but who pays for the ammo he sprayed around in the video? Based on the little I know about the AK-style, M-16 variants and the drum fed 9mm handgun, he shot off well over a hundred rounds. I wonder if he had a cigarette after he finished the video?

  31. gertzedek says

    @Childermass Unless a “liberals take it in the ass” T-shirt is involved in that PD’s uniform…

  32. lochaber says

    I grew up in a town in PA (about twice the size of that one, according to wikipedia), not terribly far from there. Pretty much casebook example of numerous reasons why I left.

    For some reason I felt compelled to do a google image search, and in close to ~1/2 the pics, he’s using some sort of a firearm, almost always with some ridiculous extended snail drum mag thing. That alone makes me question his suitability – those things are notorious for jamming, and with a bit of practice, it’s not difficult to change out a magazine in about a second (much less if you aren’t concerned about retaining the empty, which I assume cops could get away with, but I don’t know…). However, it takes considerably longer to clear a jam.

    sorta strikes me as the classic small-town, wanna-be badass, mall-ninja type (which, coincidentally, is about the last type you want in any position that gives them any sort of authority or access to weapons)

    I’m guessing the buying weapons/donating to the local police department is just a technicality sidestep, where he can get weapons that are illegal/restricted, but still get full access to/use of such weapons without any of the liabilities/restrictions.

  33. says

    “I’m guessing the buying weapons/donating to the local police department is just a technicality sidestep, where he can get weapons that are illegal/restricted, but still get full access to/use of such weapons without any of the liabilities/restrictions.”

    And, if he’s using the weapons, on his own time, for purposes not related to his job than he’s guilty of mis/malfeasance and, likely, a dereliction of his fiduciary responsibility. But, then, I can see where his fiduciary responsibility is overridden by his fordouchery or Fuddouchery responsibility.

    “We aw hunting wibwoes, you must be vewy, vewy quiet…”

  34. janiceclanfield says

    But, but, freedom! Liberty! How did this guy get guns in the first place. Shouldn’t there be some sort of psychiatric evaluation given before handing out automatic weapons?

    Your country is crazy.

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