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Officer Steve Bergren cleared of posting sexual, racial pictures on Facebook, but disciplined for talking to the media

1:08 PM, Dec 10, 2012   |    comments
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Tarpon Springs, Florida -- A Tarpon Springs Police Department Internal Affairs investigation says K-9 Officer Steven Bergren was not holding a sexual toy in his dog's mouth in a picture he placed on the Internet. 

The probe was launched after the 10 News Investigators received complaints from viewers that Bergren posted sexually-oriented and racially insensitive pictures on his Facebook page.

Photo Gallery: Pictures on Officer Steve Bergren's Facebook page


The Department found what appeared to be a sexually oriented picture was taken at a"Public Safety Day" in April. 

The report says, "The police department's Facebook Administrator posted all of the photos to the police department's Facebook page. Shortly thereafter, a citizen notified Captain Young that at least one of the photos gave an appearance of impropriety. This photo(s) was immediately removed." 

However, the investigation found that Officer Bergren took one of the photos removed from the city page and "downloaded it to a city-owned desktop computer located in the office, designated as the K-9 office."

Additionally, the I.A. investigation states "Officer Bergren maintains he preserved this photo simply from the standpoint of it being a police dog in action."

Internal Affairs also investigated Officer Bergren's personal Facebook page. On it, Officer Bergren posted a famous black and white photo that depicts police dogs attacking an African-American youth from the 1960's. 

Officer Bergren stated he collected this photo -- along with many other police photos -- because he is interested in "vintage" things. He denied he knew what was going on in this situation (referring to the background context and relations between police and African-Americans in that era) and denied basing his photo selection on race.

Officer Bergren received a verbal counseling for violating General Order 110, which specifically lists which members of the department are allowed to talk to the media. He received the punishment because he talked to 10 News when we called about the pictures.

He was also given a review of general orders on conduct in relation to private and professional lives, good order and discipline, social media use as a private citizen and use of city owned computers.

The Tarpon Springs Police Department says training and discussion took place with Officer Bergren on how the actions and behavior of law enforcement officers -- both on and off duty -- affect public perception. 

The Department states Officer Bergren accepted the training and feedback in a positive manner, and acknowledged that this problem will not occur again.

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