Newark, N.J., police are investigating an alleged Facebook exchange between a onetime city police officer and an active-duty city police lieutenant in which "Ras Baraka, the city's African-American mayor, is referred to as a gorilla," the Star-Ledger reports.
According to the Star-Ledger, the reported incident, a screenshot of which was sent to police officials, violates the department's social media policy.
"What's particularly disturbing about this incident is that this police official has been on the job for many years and has some amount of influence over the rank and file in the department," Police Director Eugene Venable, who was sent a screenshot of the conversation, told the newspaper.
Both the active and retired officers' names have been withheld because the Star-Ledger reported that it was unable to independently verify the incident.
The exchange starts with a picture of a gorilla and the caption: "Lmfao….How's your mayor?"
The current police lieutenant reportedly replies, "Exactly!!!!"
"It's unfortunate that this happened, and we will not tolerate an atmosphere of bigotry and intolerance anywhere in this administration," Baraka said in a statement, adding, "I still believe we have the best police force in the state of New Jersey."
Venable told the Star-Ledger that a strict social media policy was put in place to prevent matters like this from happening.
"Anything on social media which could possibly be misconstrued and reflect negatively on the department is in violation," Venable told the newspaper.
"The general order was created as the result of several embarrassing instances of online activity by members of the department that were quite racy and somewhat, quite frankly, borderline discriminatory. … Violations of the order could result in disciplinary actions, including dismissal," Venable said.
The lieutenant remains on active duty pending the outcome of the investigation, according to the Star-Ledger.
Read more at the Star-Ledger.