ROSWELL, Ga. — A 911 communications supervisor in Roswell was demoted, and then fired, for posting, on social media, what the police chief called “racially charged materials.”
But the now-former 911 officer said she was just telling her truth on her personal Facebook page and didn’t mean to offend.
11Alive’s Reveal Investigators obtained the police department’s internal documents, as well as the audio of the officer defending herself prior to the disciplinary actions against her.
It was in June when some Roswell Police 911 communications officers first saw it--one of the Facebook posts that their supervisor, Rhonda Moore, had shared on her personal page while she was off-duty.
The post they saw shows the Confederate flag, with the words, “If this symbol represents racism in America, so do these,” and, below that, the post shows logos for Black and Hispanic organizations and causes.
Another one of the racially-oriented posts that investigators say they found on Moore’s personal Facebook page shows an image of a Black Lives Matter mural painted on a city street, along with a quote, "Only in America can an ethnic group have Black Awareness Month, a Black holiday, Black-only colleges, Black-only dating sites, Black-only bars and clubs, and turn around and call everyone else racist.”
The department’s Office of Professional Standards investigated whether Moore violated the city’s policies on personal social media use. Investigators wrote, “Moore… allowed the investigators access to her Facebook account, which had several additional posts of similar subject matter in the past.”
Moore told investigators that her posts express what she believes.
“As far as the rebel flag, that’s part of heritage. And it doesn’t stand for racism,” Moore told them on June 24, when they recorded their interview with her.
“It has nothing to do with slavery, oppression, or anything else like that. It’s history. And as far as the BLM and all of that, that’s an organized group that is out to do nothing but cause issues with the law enforcement and with the public. Do I believe Blacks are oppressed? Yes, on some point, they are," she said.
"Does things need to be changed? Absolutely. But, again, I mean, the flag, the rebel flag, is, to me, not racist by any means," she added.
Two Black 911 officers told investigators that Moore’s posts were not like anything they thought Moore would ever support or believe in. The posts were “unsettling, to say the least,” according to one of the employees, Kenya Brooks, who said Moore was well-liked, and they had never before seen that side of Moore.
“We talk every morning, laugh and joke and everything. So I was, like, that’s why I questioned if it was her,” Brooks said, adding that she didn’t want Moore to get in trouble, but wanted to “bring awareness” to what Moore was posting.
“We love Rhonda,” Akira Cooke said during her interview.
“Rhonda’s a great person. With the protest and everything going on, it’s a very touchy topic for some people. And we all were on the same page on the shift” at work, Cooke said.
Cooke said she was surprised to see Moore’s posts, “In shock that she would post something like that… A lot of people look at Rhonda as, like, the mom of the shift," Cooke explained.
"A lot of people go to Rhonda and confide in her, which shows a lot about her character…. She’s a great person… I didn’t bring it up for her to get in trouble,” but said she also thought it was important to report Moore’s posts.
Roswell Police Chief James Conroy reviewed the OPS investigation and, in July, decided to demote Moore, and impose a pay cut of 5 percent, writing to her that the “posts on your personal social media pages… [contain] racially charged materials…. These images… are not acceptable.”
Moore appealed her demotion and pay cut. And on September 11, City Administrator Gary Palmer emailed Moore that, as a result of his investigation into her appeal, he was firing her, effective immediately.
Moore continues to insist that she didn’t mean to offend anyone, as she told investigators in June.
“We can’t say that we’re white pride or whatever you want to call it, because we’d be deemed as racists. And I don’t agree with that.”
Department records show that Moore was hired on August 4, 2014, and that there were no complaints filed against her until now. And Moore told investigators in June that she never once identified herself, on her social media pages, as being in law enforcement or as an employee of the Roswell Police Department, her posts were her own.
But Chief Conroy wrote Moore that her posts “have the potential to bring a negative light to the City and to the Roswell Police Department and are not acceptable. It is imperative that when an employee posts images, they consider the potential ramifications, when viewed by others, on not only themselves, but the City and the Roswell Police Department as a whole. These are very serious issues.”
11Alive News reached Moore by phone Thursday evening, and she said she is consulting with an attorney about what her legal options are now.