• 81°

Flaggs says he stands behind Vicksburg Fire Chief Danczyk

Vicksburg Fire Chief Craig Danczyk still has the support of Mayor George Flaggs Jr. amidst a controversy over the chief’s recent comments made on social media.

“To this day I still believe in him and until that changes he’s still the fire chief,” Flaggs said at the start of Wednesday’s meeting of the Board of Mayor and Aldermen. He appointed Danczyk fire chief in July 2017.

Danczyk has come under criticism for a post he made about a week ago on his personal Facebook page that involved protecting his home and family and included the comment, “I got 40 round magazines and (2) ARs.”

Flaggs said the chief’s post was “insensitive and disrespectful and distasteful to a lot of people.” He said a black firefighter made derogatory comments about whites on his personal Facebook page. Flaggs did not identify the firefighter, citing the city’s personnel policy.

“We’re looking at all the posts and whether or not there was any violation of any constitutional provisions; whether or not it violated any of the city’s social media policy,” he said at the time.

He said Wednesday he talked with an outside attorney recommended by city attorney Nancy Thomas about the Facebook posts and the city’s social media policy.

“There is a process which we will look at,” Flaggs said. “More than one fireman has involved themselves in social media that we are looking at,” the mayor said.

The social media policy and the posts were discussed briefly during a 30-minute executive session at the close of Wednesday’s board meeting. After coming out of the closed session Flaggs said the discussion about the policy would continue at the board’s June 15 meeting.

“After that, we will have more information and we’ll be able to answer any questions that do not involve personnel,” he said.

According to the city’s social network policy for the fire department, employees maintain their First Amendment rights, “But any speech or expression, even in a personal capacity causing disruption or that undermines the effectiveness and/or operation of the department is prohibited.

“Employees shall not engage in posting any material which reflects negativity on any other city employee or official, this department, or the fire and EMS professions, or which could compromise any emergency scene of an investigation.”

Under the subtitle of “procedures,” the policy lists 14 items for employees to follow while networking. According to the policy, failure to comply could result in disciplinary action, including termination.

About John Surratt

John Surratt is a graduate of Louisiana State University with a degree in general studies. He has worked as an editor, reporter and photographer for newspapers in Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama. He has been a member of The Vicksburg Post staff since 2011 and covers city government. He and his wife attend St. Paul Catholic Church and he is a member of the Port City Kiwanis Club.

email author More by John