One of two Bedford police officers suspended for posting TikTok videos while on duty had previously been disciplined for unauthorized vehicle pursuits, and a supervisor admitted he should have monitored his social media activity, according to documents obtained through a Right-to-Know request.
Nicholas Fiorentino told his superiors that he posted about 60 TikTok videos and two live videos on his personal account while on duty, according to the investigation report. He said he received between $500 to $1,000 from the TikTok Creator Fund based on the number of views of his videos.
Fiorentino was suspended without pay for 20 days. Two additional days were tacked on in connection with a separate disciplinary action related to unauthorized vehicle pursuits on Nov. 27, 2019, and July 13, 2020, according to his disciplinary record.
Although Fiorentino was verbally counseled on Sept. 20, 2020 for substandard work performance, and a letter of caution was issued in August 2020 for violation of officer safety guidelines and the department consent-to-search policy, at least one superior “admitted he should have monitored Officer Fiorentino’s (TikTok) activity and/or provided guidance to him,” states the report, which redacted the name of the superior.
One of the police department’s lieutenants, whose name was redacted, said Fiorentino “had been given permission to make/post personal (TikTok) videos while on duty as a department employee,” but was later told that he was not authorized to conduct live-streaming.
The same superior, however, said that “an officer who exhibited significant performance problems should have been directed to stop making (TikTok) videos and that it would have been prudent to issue a directive …,” the report stated.
The videos came to light in April when a Merrimack resident filed a formal complaint about the political bias they contained.
In one of the video posts, an officer with the TikTok account handle @officer_tino, rolls down the window of a police vehicle and yells, “Hey, you look like you are going to shoot those people. Could you just not, oh, he is pointing it at me. I am out.” He then rolls up the window and drives away.
In one of several TikTok posts, Fiorentino said he should consider making a private channel, “No liberals allowed.”
In another segment he tells an unseen person to stop stabbing someone as comical music plays in the background.
“When asked the intent of his (TikTok) account, Officer Fiorentino states, ‘Helping others achieve the goal of getting into law enforcement. Humanizing the badge. Satirical comedy for other police officers,’” the disciplinary finding states.
Police Chief John Bryfonski said last month that the behavior on social media ran contrary to the expectations and requirements of a sworn police officer and damaged the confidence, trust and respect in the Bedford Police Department by the community. The actions were also inconsistent with the department’s policies, he said.
“The culture of professionalism, caring and dedication of the Bedford Department to serving and protecting our residents and visitors remains strong, which was exemplified by the action taken in this case,” Bryfonski said in an email on Monday. “I am confident the officers involved in this case remain dedicated law enforcement professionals who will continue to serve and protect our community to the utmost of their ability.”
The recently released documents also revealed that Officer Adrien Dupuis, initially suspended for eight working days because of his involvement with the social media posts, made an informal appeal prior to filing an official grievance regarding his disciplinary action.
In a settlement signed off on by Bryfonski, Dupuis was given a two-day unpaid suspension, pending good behavior for a year.
In the chief’s decision, he wrote to Dupuis, “ … You indicated that while you created/posted videos on social media while on duty, your specific videos did not rise to the level of unprofessionalism in comparison to those videos attributed to others.”
The officers were required to complete training on cultural awareness, diversity and implicit bias.