UP officer fired over racist Twitter bio

The officer was fired Aug. 4 after having a racist reference on her Twitter account. ORACLE FILE PHOTO

A University Police (UP) officer was fired after racist language appeared on her Twitter account.

Created in 2015, Presley Garcia’s Twitter account “@presleyyyg,” which has since been deleted, had “KKK member” described in its bio. The investigation began after Bay News 9 emailed UP a snapshot of Garcia’s Twitter account with the racist reference.

Garcia, 26, was put on administrative leave until the investigations were concluded. During the preliminary interview, Garcia said a friend was responsible for putting the statement in her Twitter bio, USF Police Chief Chris Daniel wrote in a letter to Human Resources.

“According to her statements, she was young at the time when the phrase was placed on the Twitter page, and that she and the friend probably did not even know what it meant,” Daniel wrote in the letter.

“Officer Garcia stated that she did not know anything about Twitter. Therefore, she claims she lacked the knowledge as to how to remove the statement.”

Garcia’s Twitter account reflected usage on at least 15 days, over a two-month period, according to the letter. The account was active from November 2015 until January 2016. 

Garcia said in her preliminary interview that she attempted to delete the account on the day it was created, but she did not know how to effectively delete it, according to the letter. She then deleted the application from her phone, believing that it would “resolve the issue.”

The account remained active until July 8.

Daniel wrote in the letter that Garcia “denied any affiliations with the KKK, or other subversive organizations.”

When Garcia was hired in 2018, the letter said she claimed she “had forgotten about the account as she thought it no longer existed” during her pre-employment background investigation.

As an officer, there were no citizen complaints of bias in her policing functions, according to the letter. In a review of demographics linked to her self-initiated police activity, 46 percent of her enforcement contacts were white, 14.4 were Black and 17.11 were Hispanic.

Despite Garcia denying a connection between her Twitter account and her role as a police officer, Daniel said her continuing employment could “disrupt operations of [the police department] and threaten the safety of her co-workers.”

“This concern is of particular importance given the activities occurring on a local and national level. Since the incident involving George Floyd, dissident members of the community have targeted law enforcement officers, their departments, their families and their homes,” Daniel wrote.

“Commensurate with ongoing social disruption, and the targeting of police officers/families, some of Officer Garcia’s co-workers have personally experienced adverse behaviors by neighbors and community members.”

Among the behaviors, Daniel wrote that officers experienced having their doors kicked, vehicles photographed in their driveways, street signs tagged near their residences and had been followed to work while being “antagonized on the roadway.”

With the repercussion of Garcia’s actions, Daniel wrote that prior victims of crime released statements claiming that “their criminal complaints were not thoroughly investigated because we have a ‘racist cop.’

“While not true, these sentiments cast a shadow of doubt across the entire agency causing the very professional officers to work even harder simply to maintain the confidence of our community,” Daniel wrote.

“Unfortunately, we will never truly understand what was in her head or in her heart at the time the phrase became publicly displayed in her Twitter profile,” Daniel wrote. “We will never truly know why the phrase remained visible for several years, why she never made vigorous attempts to remove it, and why she failed to disclose the account at her time of employment.”