The St. Louis County Police opened an investigation after a Facebook post by one of its officers seemed to brag about how he spent his “annual Michael Brown bonus” on a vacation.
Officer Todd J Bakula, also known as “TJ,” a patrolman of the St. Louis County Police Department, reportedly made the extra money while participating in the huge police response to the anniversary demonstrations of Michael Brown’s death in Ferguson, Missouri, in August 2014.
This year’s protest began on Sunday, Aug. 9 and authorities declared a state of emergency from Monday to Thursday. Hundreds took to the street to protest the disproportionate use of excessive force by police towards people of color, reports International Business Times.
Several were arrested and St. Louis County Police worked long hours to keep up with the protesters.
“I decided to spend my annual Michael Brown bonus on a nice relaxing bicycle ride trip to Defiance,” the Facebook post began, referring to a recreation destination about 40 miles from Ferguson. “Eating dinner now and staying at a bed and breakfast tonight,” the post continued. “And heres to my awesome wife for doing this with me while being 18 weeks pregnant.”
Overtime pay for police officers dealing with demonstrations can be lucrative in Missouri and the rest of the country.
According to the St. Louis Business Journal, in the wake of Michael Brown’s killing in August 2014, police were paid “$2.5 million in overtime for police work.”
By January, with the unrest that followed, police “had put in 121,935 hours of work since the shooting, which amounts to $3.9 million in overtime costs and $1.2 million in fringes,” or benefits, according to the South Country Times.
After seeing the Facebook post, media relations officer at St. Louis County Police Department, Shawn McGuire, wrote to The Guardian by email: “We understand the post is controversial,” wrote McGuire. “The St. Louis County police department takes these allegations very serious (sic) in every case. The remarks on the Facebook page will be investigated by our department.”
The Guardian attempted to contact Bakula, who was allegedly using the alias “TJ Thekoola” on Facebook. Bakula did not respond to emails, voicemails or texts by the newspaper. A text message was sent to The Guardian saying that it was the wrong number for Bakula, however, the voicemail message for the number had the name of both Bakula and his wife.