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Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Fire capt. demoted for alleged Trayvon rant

(CBS News) A Miami Dade fire captain was demoted to the rank of firefighter after making alleged remarks on Facebook regarding the Trayvon Martin case, CBS Station WFOR Miami reported.

Miami-Dade County Mayor Carlos A. Gimenez issued a statement Tuesday about Captain Brian Beckmann's demotion, saying he backs the action taken by the fire department director.

"The comments made by Captain Beckmann were reprehensible and will not be tolerated. We can't have our employees, especially a supervisor, making such disparaging comments about any member of our community, much less one of our own employees," said the mayor through a statement.

"In order to avoid this from happening in the future," he continued, "I have directed my staff to revise the appropriate policies dealing with this issue. It is important to reiterate my position that public servants have a responsibility to uphold the highest levels of integrity and decency, especially when you consider our multicultural, multi-ethnic community. There's no such thing as being off-the-clock; we are public servants 24/7 and must conduct ourselves with the utmost professionalism at all times."

According to the report, Beckmann, a 17-year member of the fire department, allegedly made remarks in reference to the case of Trayvon Martin -- the unarmed teen who was shot and killed by a neighborhood watch volunteer -- on his Facebook page: "I and my coworkers could rewrite the book on whether our urban youths are victims of racist profiling or products of their failed, (expletive), ignorant, pathetic, welfare dependent excuses for parents."

The fire captain said that he did not write the message and that he copied and pasted the comments from a website.

Aside from the demotion, Beckmann could face a substantial loss in pay and will have to take a psychological exam by a county doctor and diversity training courses.

Meanwhile, the firefighter union said the action against Beckmann, who is expected to appeal, is excessive. "We will immediately file an appeal to an independent arbitrator," said union president Rowan Taylor via a statement. "We anticipate that the case will be heard within the next few months. The decision of the independent arbitrator will be final and binding."

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