Society

Officer Resigns After Controversial Images Go Viral (Photos)

| by Kathryn Schroeder

A Traverse City, Michigan, police officer has resigned after an investigation was opened into his attendance at a protest against President-elect Donald Trump with a Confederate flag on his pickup truck.

Photographs showing officer Michael Peters of the Traverse City Police Department outside of a Nov. 11 “Love Trumps Hate” protest with a Confederate flag on the back of his truck were shared worldwide, the Traverse City Record-Eagle reports.

Marshall Collins Jr. was at the “Love Trumps Hate” protest when Peters arrived.

“I was talking to some friends and my sister and then that's when the truck came by with the flag on it and revved its engine right as it got near us,” he told WWTV.

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“He is a role model and that's what he should be displaying here. ... To see him, knowing that he’s a cop, knowing that he's out there to protect and serve, knowing that I have to look over my back for someone like that in our community and our department, it scares me and it scares my family," Collins said.

Peters, who was off duty at the time, also took out a bottle of beer and started drinking it at the protest, Grand Traverse Democrat Party Chair John Snow told the Traverse City Record-Eagle.

“The fact that this man carries the shield of the Traverse City Police Department, I think wrecks all of the good work that our current chief has done in trying to improve community relations,” he said.

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Traverse City Police Chief Jeff O’Brien told the Traverse City Record-Eagle that he received an estimated 100 emails calling on him to terminate Peters.

Peters was suspended from active duty and an internal investigation was opened to discover whether his actions violated laws or the department’s code of conduct.

"I hear you!" O'Brien wrote on Facebook Nov. 13 regarding Peters actions, according to the Traverse City Record-Eagle. "Let me assure you that we hold our officers to a higher standard and the flag incident will be fully investigated."

If evidence of illegal behavior is found, it will be sent to Grand Traverse County prosecutors, O’Brien told the news outlet.

On Nov. 14, Peters resigned from the department.

"He apologized to the community and for the stain he put on the city," Traverse City Manager Marty Colburn said. “He apologized to the Traverse City Police Department for the stain he put on the police department. I believe that apology was very sincere."

The investigation into Peters' behavior remains open, according to Colburn.

"We will get through this," O'Brien said. "The community will get through this."

Sources: Traverse City Record-Eagle (2), WWTV / Photo credit: WPBN, Jan Michael-Stump/Traverse City Record-Eagle

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