HIGH SPRINGS ‒ On Nov. 2, High Springs Police Chief Antoine Sheppard issued a press release, which was featured on the High Springs Police Department’s Facebook page. It was a message to High Springs residents about a video circulating on YouTube involving High Springs police officers’ handling of a trespass service call with what he described as a “well-known First Amendment auditor with thousands of followers nationwide.”
Sheppard explained, “These followers, a vocal minority, inundated our office and other City staff with vulgar hate speech and messages, phone calls, and emails. Many of these foreign constituents are unreasonable and extremists who live outside of our state, and they do not support any form of law enforcement.”
In addressing the incident in question, Sheppard went on to state the following, “On Sept. 28, 2023, HSPD patrol officers responded to a local children’s daycare center concerning a disturbance between a citizen and the daycare employees. Reportedly, the citizen kept walking near the daycare where children were present, and a verbal altercation began. The auditor started video recording the incident and was subsequently issued a trespass warning from the property.
Initially, the auditor praised the agency on how the matter was conducted but later found a discrepancy with a statement by HSPD officers that he was recording children at the daycare. The citizen also had displeasure with another officer being captured on body camera after the service call, saying, ‘What a Whacko.’”
In Sheppard’s press release he stated that the matter was corrected and cured immediately. “The property owner was contacted and updated on the accurate sequence of events, and the property owner reaffirmed the trespass. There was no intent to deceive the property owner on the recording of children, just miscommunication during the transaction of the service call. The accused officer is a veteran police officer with an exemplary record with our agency.
“The secondary officer was counseled and reminded to deactivate her body-worn camera system after the service call. The officer’s statement was inadvertently captured on video footage and limited to her opinion and shared with her colleagues in a private setting and not directly to any member of the public. The statement was not egregious or derogatory.”
Sheppard went on to say, “Afterward, I verbally apologized to the citizens on behalf of the agency for the oversight, and I reinterned the continuous training that we have incorporated within our agency to recognize the First Amendment Rights of our citizens.”
Sheppard finalized his press release, “In closing, I am so grateful to live and work in a community that is pro-law enforcement, and what I mean by that is community-based law enforcement that is transparent and held accountable by a balanced approach. We are not perfect, but we strive for perfection, and we will continue to serve selflessly.”
The press release was signed by Chief Antoine Sheppard – High Springs Police Dept.
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