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Lebanon police chief removed from job due to ‘offensive’ Facebook comment from 2017

LEBANON, Ind.-- The Lebanon police chief has been removed from his position and put on patrol duty after making what he says was a "crude, and offensive comment" on Facebook two years ago.

The comment in question was made in February of 2017, according to former chief Tyson Warmoth.

"In February of 2017, I made a crude, and offensive comment in jest while bantering with my adult son on his personal Facebook page. This comment was inappropriate and immature. This post recently came to the public’s attention after a private citizen had taken a screenshot and posted it on their personal Facebook page. I will not defend the statement as there is no defense for it. I take full responsibility," he said in a statement.

Warmoth noted he has been in law enforcement for 30 years, and accepted the decision for him to step down without argument. Here is the rest of his statement:

I want to clearly, and publicly, apologize for the comment. It in no way reflects my character, morals, or leadership. It was inappropriate banter between father and son on a public accessed forum. It was wrong, and I was wrong for saying it. To the Citizens, to my fellow officers, and to Mayor Gentry, I am truly sorry.

It has been decided that I be removed from the Office of Chief of Police. This is a decision that I accept without argument. I have dedicated 30 years of my life to the law enforcement profession and to this community. I have been honored to serve as your Chief of Police for the past 3 years. I have worked hard in creating partnerships with the Lebanon Police Department and the public. I truly hope that work will continue in the next Administration. I will continue to do my best to protect and serve as I return to the Patrol Division. I do learn from my mistakes. This will not happen again. I do hope the community can forgive me for this error in judgement.

The contents of the comment have not been independently verified by CBS4 at this time.

Assistant Chief Brad Bailey will take over as interim chief until a permanent successor is named.

The City of Lebanon issued this statement:

Lebanon Police Officer Tyson Warmoth is no longer the Police Chief of the Lebanon Police Department. The 23-year LPD officer was removed from his position by Mayor Matt Gentry but will remain on the force. Warmoth will return to his last merit rank of Captain. Warmoth has also been suspended without pay for three days.

"Two days ago, I was made aware of a comment Tyson made on his son’s Facebook page in February 2017, while serving as Chief. This comment was crass, demeaning, and unacceptable. As Mayor, I have strict ethical policies, and high expectations how city employees in leadership positions carry themselves. Tyson violated that policy and significant changes were necessary.” said Mayor Gentry. “Tyson is a decorated officer that has served this community for 23 years. His decisive and heroic actions on March 2, 2018 will not be forgotten."

Friday afternoon Mayor Gentry supported his decision to demote Warmoth but questioned the motives behind his Facebook comments resurfacing.

‘It feels like its been a political attack. And it's unfortunate that we’ve reached this point," Gentry said.

Gentry cited "tensions" between the Lebanon Police Department and the Boone County Sheriff's Office, and an issue regarding a former Lebanon PD employee, as potential motive.

“ I definitely think there’s a reason behind it, yea," Gentry said.

As of Friday evening the Boone County Sheriff hadn't issued a response to Gentry's claims.

Important note:  CBS4 did speak to the person who originally re-posted Warmoth’s 2017 Facebook comments. The person is not an employee of the Boone County Sheriff’s Office or the Lebanon Police department. The  person who is not being named, said the reasons behind the post were personal, not political.

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