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Burlington Police Deputy Chief Disciplined For Fake Social Media Accounts

A person stands against the American flag and the Vermont state flag.
Elodie Reed
VPR File
Deputy Chief Jan Wright, seen here at a Dec. 16 press conference, will be suspended for eight days without pay after admitting to using two fake Facebook accounts to interact with civilians.

A senior police official in Burlington violated city policy when she used two anonymous social media accounts to interact with critics of the department. Burlington Police Deputy Chief Jan Wright will be suspended for eight days without pay, according to an internal investigation.

On Monday, the city released its investigation into Wright's behavior. It found that Wright used fake Facebook accounts to make 10 posts that were "derogatory or personally attacking in nature."

In a letter to Wright, interim Burlington Police Chief Jennifer Morrision wrote that going forward, she expected Wright to "demonstrate the highest level of professionalism."

"Any further conduct reflecting a lack of courtesy, respect, or good judgement will lead to immedidate disciplinary action up to and including dismissal," Morrison wrote.

Wright can immediately return to restricted duty, according to Morrison's letter.

The report said Wright used social media accounts under two pseudonyms: "Lori Spicer" and "Abby Sykes."

In December, Wright revealed she used the "Lori Spicer" Facebook account after former chief Brandon del Pozoresigned over his admission that he used an anonymous Twitter account to taunt Charles Winkleman, a critic of the department.

More from VPR: Burlington Police Chief Resigns, Department's Social Media Policy Under Review [Dec. 16, 2019]

As "Lori Spicer," Wright also interacted with Winkleman. In one post, she told him: “Just admit it. You’re obsessed with Chief del Pozo. You can’t get enough of him. He definitely lives rent free in your head. Seek help.”

The city noted it wasn’t able to review the complete history of Wright’s accounts because she was locked out of the “Lori Spicer” Facebook account and didn’t have the password for the “Abby Sykes” account.

Wright was briefly named acting chief after del Pozo resigned, but was removed from the post after admitting to having a fake social media account. The investigation faulted Wright for not coming clean sooner, saying "at best" it “represents a negligent lapse in judgement and at worst, an attempt to cover her activities.”

In a written statement, Wright wrote she was "deeply embarrassed" by her behavior.

"I look forward to returning to work and taking the steps necessary to correct my behavior, and to regain trust with those with whom it has been broken," she said.

In addition to the unpaid suspension, Wright must also take a social media training and go through a restorative justice program.

Liam is Vermont Public’s public safety reporter, focusing on law enforcement, courts and the prison system.
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