Officials in the town of Cheswold are investigating an equal opportunity complaint against one of its three full-time police officers.
In an Aug. 14 letter to Equality Delaware Inc., Town Administrator Theon E. “Sam “ Callender acknowledged the complaint against 33-year-old Cpl. Louis Simms.
“The mayor, town council and chief of police of the town of Cheswold are aware of the recent controversial postings on social media allegedly attributed to Officer Simms,” Callender wrote in a letter to the group.
“Chief [Christopher] Workman is and has taken immediate steps to investigate the matter with great sensitivity toward those raising objections, [and] toward the community at large while also being sensitive to and maintaining the rights of the officer,” she added.
A veteran of the U.S. Air Force, Simms has been with the town since 2009.
In their letter to the town Equality Delaware President Lisa Goodman and Equality Delaware Foundation President Mark Purpura allege Simms allegedly made an anti-LGBTQ posting on a Facebook account bearing his photograph.
A screenshot of the posting, provided by Purpura, shows the words, “I stand with Trump!!! The flag on the right shoulder is [an American flag]. Not [the rainbow flag].
According to its website, the group works to ensure fairness and equal opportunity for all “lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer Delawareans.”
Goodman and Purpura called called for Simms to be fired if Workman’s investigation determines the posting can be attributed to the officer.
The posting “characterizes the LGBTQ community, through our trademark rainbow flag, as somehow incompatible with America, as though LGBTQ Americans aren’t Americans at all,” Goodman and Purpura wrote.
Such an attitude exhibited by a police officer shows that officer tends to discriminate against the LGBTQ community and undermines public trust in law enforcement, they said. It also creates a hostile work environment for town employees, their families or friends who consider themselves part of that community, they added.
“Simply put, if the post is from Officer Simms, then his behavior shows not only poor judgment, but a disposition for discrimination against an entire community of people based solely on their sexual orientation or gender identity or expression,” Goodman and Purpura said.
These are not traits desired for someone in the position of enforcing the law, they concluded.
In a press release, Workman said he has asked the Delaware Police Chiefs Council to appoint an independent party to handle the complaint.
The investigation will be handled with sensitivity to the rights of those who filed the complaint as well as respecting Simms’ rights under Delaware’s Law Enforcement Officers’ Bill of Rights.
Workman said he expects a prompt conclusion to the investigation and will announce its findings and a course of action when that occurs.
Until then, he cannot comment further, Workman added.