A Minneapolis police commander has been demoted after an online uproar over a Facebook post about homicide investigations that sparked controversy online and drew rebukes from both Chief Medaria Arradondo and the NAACP.
Kim Lund Voss wrote on her publicly available Facebook page Sunday that she had been transferred to the South Side Third Precinct, where she will run the property crimes unit. In doing so, she will return to her rank of lieutenant.
“As we all know a fragment of a single moment may not give the full context to who I am, what I’m made of,” she wrote in the follow-up post.
Department spokesman John Elder confirmed the move on Monday, adding that it was unclear who would fill her former post as commander of the Juvenile Division, an appointed position. Elder said the department had no further comment on what amounted to “an HR issue.”
The controversy started late last month after Voss posted a photo of a 1990s-era T-shirt that featured an image of crime scene tape and a chalk outline of a body drawn on it, with the words: “MINNEAPOLIS POLICE HOMOCIDE (sic) DIVISION Our Day Starts When Yours Ends.”
The phrase is commonly found on police-themed T-shirts, mugs and other memorabilia, but some considered it insensitive to homicide victims in a city where most are young black men.
In a caption with the photo, Voss wrote that she was “organizing the storage room and came across this gem!” adding that “it pays to proof read,” referring to the misspelling of the word “homicide.”
Many posts questioned whether the misspelling was intentional, given that the shirt was produced at a time when the city had seen a series of murders of gay men.
A screen grab of Voss’ post soon began circulating on the social media site, drawing sharp rebukes from the Minneapolis chapter of the NAACP and Arradondo, who later apologized, saying neither the photo nor the caption reflected “the values and transformational culture that we are as a department today.”
Voss, who is married to a former Minneapolis homicide detective, later deleted the post, writing that she didn’t intend to offend anyone.
Voss’ demotion followed a meeting last week between Arradondo and Minneapolis NAACP’s Leslie Redmond — who first shared the post — and other black leaders to discuss the episode.
Nekima Levy Armstrong, a longtime civil rights attorney who also attended the meeting, said that as a leader Voss should’ve known the harm her words could inflict.
“Her intentions do not matter. What matters most is the outcome of the actions,” she said Monday. “As a leader within the Minneapolis Police Department she should have known that posting such an offensive message on social media would be highly offensive … not to mention to undermine public trust.”
In her follow-up post, Voss wrote that the T-shirt was made as a “fundraiser by a private businessman for his business” and that the “words a few have used to describe [me] are not true.”
“My daughter served in the Peace Corps in Africa. My Son is an accomplished musician. We celebrate the musical greats together, from Sam Cooke, Miles Davis, Louis Armstrong and of course Notorious B.I.G.,” she wrote.
“As for those of the LGBTQ community, a community that is rich with love and acceptance, I’m sorry, the guy that made the shirt just didn’t know how to spell,” she added.
Voss started with the department in 1987, according to the police website.