Medford police officer facing discipline after controversial online post

A Medford Police officer is facing discipline after he posted a controversial image online.

Officer Jason Montalbano, an 18-year-old veteran of the department, said he posted a graphic image of a nuclear explosion along with a message some might believe is insulting to Muslims.

“When I first saw the post on another site, I took it as targeting ISIS. My intention in posting it on my private Facebook page was to support an aggressive military action against the ISIS terrorist threat,” Montalbano said during a news conference.

Montalbano said, "I understand that the reference to Islam was inappropriately overbroad and offensive to Muslims and non-Muslims alike.”

Montalbano apologized for part of his actions.

"I sincerely apologize not for my intended message but for my carelessness and inappropriate way in which the message was transmitted," the officer said. 

Some people on Facebook spoke out in support of Montalbano. Others, however, were outraged by the post.

The Council on American-Islamic Relations, in a statement, said: “While officer Montalbano has first amendment rights, police should be held to a higher standard. Those whose job it is to protect and serve the entire community, regardless of race or faith, must conduct themselves in a manner that is free of bias."

Officials said Montalbano’s record does not include any evidence of discrimination against Muslims or any other ethnic or religious group.

An internal probe of the incident is being conducted.

In a statement, Medford Mayor Stephanie Burke said:

I applaud his swift public statement pertaining to this matter and clarifying his intent of the Facebook post.His comments about ISIS and the terror they inflict on our world is shared.  I cannot emphasize enough the importance of separating this terrorist organization from people who practice the Islamic faith. The City of Medford’s ‘Social Media Policy’ is being developed and will apply to all municipal employees. Currently, Police are required to comply with their departmental rules and regulations along with the social media policy that exists presently for the department. We are hopeful that this negative incident will lead to beneficial dialogue as we go forward as a united community

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