Burlington police official suspended without pay for fake social media posts

Local News

Burlington Deputy Police Chief Jan Wright was suspended without pay for 8 days after an internal investigation found that she used fake social media accounts to hide her identity while discussing city business online.

Read the investigative report on Deputy Chief Jan Wright

The findings of the investigation, released Monday, cap an episode that began December 16, when Wright was named acting chief following the resignation of Brandon del Pozo, who admitted using an anonymous account to taunt a frequent critic of the department. Wright’s appointment was withdrawn hours later when she told Mayor Miro Weinberger that she, too, used so-called “burner” accounts to engage with critics, including City Councilors, anonymously.

The investigation identified 10 social media posts “of concern” by Wright under the names ‘Lori Spicer’ and ‘Abby Sykes’ between June and December 2019. In one, “Sykes” criticizes Burlingon City Councilors Max Tracey and Ali Dieng for proposing to reduce the size of the police force following numerous allegations of excessive force by officers.

The report criticized Wright for failing to disclose the accounts even as the department was investigating del Pozo for allegations involving his anonymous social media engagement. It said Wright was aware of the department’s concerns about del Pozo’s accounts when it was announced in July that he would take a medical leave of absence.

The report said Wright had the “burden of responsibility” to inform city officials that “she may have engaged in behavior similar to behavior for which the Chief was being investigated.”

Interim Chief Jennifer Morrison also ordered Wright to “take steps to rebuild the trust of those with whom you engaged” and to complete the city’s social media training.

In a statement released by the department, Wright said she accepted “full responsibility” for the matter.

“I am sorry for the impact it has had on the Department, its members and the City,” she said. “I am deeply embarrassed by my behavior. I look forward to returning to work and taking the steps necessary to correct my behavior and to regain trust with those with whom it has been broken.”

Morrison said Wright was cooperative and forthcoming and, in the interest of transparency, agreed to the release of the full investigative report.

This is a developing story and will be updated.

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