By Charlie Deitch
Pittsburgh Current Editor
Last August, Zone 5 Pittsburgh Police Sgt. George Kristoff was put on paid administrative leave after the Pittsburgh Current reported the presence of racially charged posts on his Facebook page and a complaint made against the officer.
On Tuesday, March 16, Cara Cruz, spokesperson for Pittsburgh Public Safety told the Current that Kristoff was back on the job. However, Cruz would not provide any other information because it was a “personnel issue.”
The Current specifically asked if Kristoff was reprimanded at all for the posts, whether he was returned to the same zone, and when he returned to the Job. When pressed further about why the date of Kristofff’s return was not being released, Cruz said, “Again, per the FOP contract, our office is not at liberty to discuss personnel matters, which this is. If you would like to know these details, I would suggest you file a Right to Know request.”
Kristoff’s posts came to light last summer after Morningside resident Jen Cieslak found them on the social media site. Cieslak made a formal complaint with the city’s Office of Municipal Investigations. Cieslak said that even as the complainant, she was not notified that Kristoff was back to work. Cieslak said she was notified that the city’s social media policy had been updated, but that’s the only response she’s ever received in relation to Kristoff According to the document on the police bureau’s web page, the changes took effect Jan. 5.
A new part of the code reads:
“Members shall not post, transmit, share and/or disseminate any content involving discourteous or disrespectful remarks in any form pertaining to issues of ethnicity, race, religion, gender, gender identity/expression, sexual orientation, and or disability.”
But Cieslak says the complaint was less about the policy and more about whether an officer who posts such things is fit to serve the city as a police officer.
“I’m disheartened to see someone with those kinds of thoughts and beliefs on the job serving our community, she said. “I believe our safety leaders in the community should be nonbiased and should refrain from sharing such heinous messages publicly.”
One of Kristoff’s social media posts reads: “If you don’t want to get hit by a car, don’t protest in the middle of a highway. If you don’t want to be killed by police, don’t engage in illegal activities. If you’re scared of the coronavirus, stay home. If you don’t love America, leave it. It’s really not that difficult.
Another shows a photo of two Black children holding handguns. The caption underneath reads: “And they wonder why their kids are getting shot.”
A meme on the page read: “You know the brainwashing is real when white people protest against white people.”
Other posts are political in nature, but again, many are based on racial themes. They include:
- A photo of Joe Biden with text that reads: “If you’re not rioting and looting then you ain’t Democrat.”
- A stern-faced photo of Barack Obama reading: “It took 223 years to build this nation and you let me, a Muslim, destroy it in 8. I divided you, sent $150 BILLION of your tax dollars to my Muslim brothers, and got a record number of Muslims to run for office. Now watch what I do next.”
- A meme of Kamala Harris shows a headline from 2016: “California’s Kamala Harris becomes first Indian-American U.S. Senator.” A 2020 headline reads: “Biden picks Kamala Harris as running mate, first Black woman.” Under the headlines is a cat in a wizard’s hat with the text: “Whoosh, now you’re black.”
- Another says that Barack Obama and actor Jussie Smollett: “Proof White Privilege Doesn’t exist.”
- There is also a photo of left-wing cause funder George Soros with a false statement attributed to him about funding “black hate groups.”