Cincinnati, OH – A veteran Hamilton County Sheriff’s deputy who posted a photo of an allegedly anti-government “Three Percenter” flag on his personal Facebook page has been fired, according to his department.
Hamilton County Deputy Michael Stemmerding was placed on administrative leave on Feb. 11 after Sheriff Charmaine McGuffey became aware of the image, The Enquirer reported.
“We are aware of a specific instance involving use of an image by a Hamilton County Sheriff’s Deputy that is a symbol that is displayed by an extremist group. We take these matters very seriously,” Sheriff McGuffey said at the time. “The Sheriff’s Office policies are in place to ensure fair treatment for all citizens, and Sheriff’s Deputies are held to the high standard of their oath to protect and serve all.”
According to Hamilton County Sheriff’s Office (HCSO) spokesperson Kyla Woods, the suspension came after news outlet WCPO began looking into Deputy Stemmerding’s social media accounts, The Enquirer reported.
The deputy allegedly posted the Facebook cover photo on Dec. 26, 2020, and it was spotted by newsroom staff on Jan. 15, WCPO reported.
The news outlet subsequently shared screenshots of the “Three Percenters” symbol and other posts on Deputy Stemmerding’s page with Sheriff McGuffey’s office.
“It’s very concerning, very serious,” Sheriff McGuffey told WCPO. “We began an inquiry right away.”
“Three Percenters” is a loose ideology, not an organization.
“The term ‘Three Percenter’ comes from a story that only three percent of the population fought in the Revolutionary War, and thanks to those patriots, liberty was achieved for everybody,” The Police Tribune Editor-in-Chief Christopher Berg has explained. “What connects Three Percenters is an anti-authoritarian belief system, which often treads into anti-government extremism.”
“Three Percenter’s aren’t an organized group,” Berg said. “There are organized groups of Three Percenters, but literally anybody can declare themselves to be a Three Percenter with no connection to any other Three Percenters or outside group.”
Berg added that it’s generally a bad idea for government agents to be associated with anti-government beliefs.
Deputy Stemmerding was suspended without pay for one day back in 2015 after he made an Instagram post declaring “Allah SUCKS,” The Enquirer reported.
“Allah SUCKS Mohammad SUCKS ISLAM SUCKS Any of you Hadji’s have an issue with me saying this, PM me and I’ll gladly give You my address,” the post read. “You can come visit me, where I promise I will KILL YOU In my front yard!!”
He received a written reprimand in April of 2020 after the HCSO became aware of 10 TikTok videos he allegedly made while sitting in his patrol car in full uniform, The Enquirer reported.
According to the HCSO social media policy, “Sheriff’s Office personnel are free to express themselves as private citizens on social media sites to the degree that their speech does not impair working relationships within the Hamilton County Sheriff’s Office, impede the performance of duties, impair discipline and harmony, or negatively affect the public perception of the Sheriff’s Office,” The Enquirer reported.
Sheriff McGuffey confirmed late last week that Deputy Stemmerding has been fired, The Enquirer reported on Feb. 19.
“This is a result of an internal investigation that was initiated when the sheriff’s office became aware of violations of our office’s social media policy,” the sheriff told the paper. “The sheriff’s office deputies are held to a high standard of transparency and accountability.”