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Pa. Chief Suspended Over Profane, Pro-Gun Videos

August 01, 2013  | 

Screenshot via YouTube.
Screenshot via YouTube.
Gilberton (Pa.) Police Chief Mark Kessler has been suspended for 30 days for using borough weapons without permission in profanity-laden YouTube videos.

The borough council voted 5-1 to suspend Kessler Wednesday, following a media storm surrounding the videos and Kessler's free-speech rights, reports the Republican Herald. The town's mayor had defended his right of expression.

Many of Kessler's supporters attended the borough meeting wearing patriotic shirts reading "Constitutional Security Force" and "Molon Labe," a Greek phrase meaning "come and take."

Kessler posted a video July 15 criticizing Secretary of State John Kerry for supporting a United Nations treaty requiring countries to regulate the international arms trade. He followed that up with a second video where he used profanity and fired several fully automatic weapons.

In a WNEP interview following the controversy over the videos, Kessler said he has received numerous death threats from all over the country.

Tags: Second Amendment, First Amendment, Officer Disciplined, Police Chiefs, Pennsylvania, Gun Rights Advocacy


Comments (24)

Displaying 1 - 24 of 24

Che Loa @ 8/1/2013 3:48 PM

What is a good email or phone number that way all God fearing, Constitution loving Americans can give him a pat on the back.

Capt. Steve @ 8/1/2013 3:51 PM

I have to say he earned it. The content of the message aside, there is a ton of case law out there about individual rights vs. your job expectations and obligations. Unfortunately for the chief, he clearly pulled his job and department into the video when he referred to himself as chief this and chief that. And for God's sake, don't go using city owned weaponry and probably city ammo to express yourself. If all he gets in the end is a 30 day unpaid vacation, he should count himself very lucky. But I'm guessing he won't.....If you feel you have to do that stuff, do it with your trusted good old boy pals, and leave the video camera at home. Nice to be able to say way to go chief from a safe distance, but would you really want to work for him?

Tom Ret @ 8/1/2013 3:51 PM

Since when does the chief need permission to fire one of the dept weapons? I don't agree with his use of profanity but what about his
right to free speech?

TimFromLA @ 8/1/2013 4:16 PM

Now if a rank-and-file officer/deputy did this, he/she would be fired. Constitution-loving patriot...right. That's why every law enforcement agency either have a union a league or a benevolent society? I weep for the chief...NOT!

Capt. Steve @ 8/1/2013 4:24 PM

We give up our unabashed right to free speech when we put on the uniform or represent ourselves as member of our agency. Cops can do stupid stuff like being in porn movies, but you better not have a part of your uniform showing. Ask the San Diego cop about that one. He was fired, not for being a porn star, but for bringing his department into it by wearing the uniform shirt. That one was upheld. As far as the (mis)using the department weapons, did that look to anyone like firearms training, or just blowing a few hundred bucks worth of ammo just to make a point? Not much different than driving 100 miles an hour in your police car off duty
just because they gave you one.

Deputy Ken @ 8/1/2013 4:42 PM

The Cheif was well within his 1st amendment rights to express himself, however, the manner in which he did so was dumb. Not a good idea to post profanity laced videos of yourself using dept. equipment, although I take exception to the without permission thing. He is the cheif and he can give himself permission to use the equipment. When you hold a high ranking L.E. job, you should probably show a little common sense in this area though. Like Capt. Steve posted, there is definately case law and upheld policy regarding social media postings, even in an off duty capacity. Gotta remember the whole conduct unbecoming thing, particularly if you are the cheif. Discretion is the better part of valor as the saying goes. The 30 day suspension seems a little bit too harsh though and I dont see anything that suggests he's a bad guy to work for, just needs to reevaluate his thought process about public perception and posting videos.

Deputy Ken @ 8/1/2013 4:50 PM

Aside from the profanity, I dont see anything wrong with the video. If he had refrained from calling himself cheif, giving reference to the department, he probably would have been just fine.

Chuck @ 8/1/2013 5:26 PM

While I applaud his passion for the US Constitution; these videos are an example of how not to show it. He's lucky all he got was a suspension.

If I were a citizen in his jurisdiction, I would like to know who paid for the ammunition he wasted during this ill-conceived stunt.

Tom Ret @ 8/1/2013 5:29 PM

Capt Steve-You have a point but I think there is a difference between
staring in a porn movie while in partial uniform, which clearly is bringing discredit to ones agency, as opposed to expressing outrage over the United Nations having any control or say over our 2nd amendment rights. Speeding 100 miles an hour is likely a crime whereas shooting off duty is not. It may be violation of dept policy but I doubt it. Our swat and snipers shoot hundreds of rounds on and off duty using their select fire weapons with their ammo allotment . The reason why this chief is in trouble is because of the video and who he is addressing his ire towards, namely the Obama administration. Expressing his beliefs laced with profanity does not lend itself to professionalism and may be seen as bringing discredit to his agency, however, I don't think he should have to give up his right of free expression as guaranteed by the constitution just because he is a cop. Cops in uniform frequently make public statements how they feel about certain laws which we may agree or disagree with. This chief could have used better judgement in his delivery for the point he wanted to make but his violations in my view are akin to spitting in the ocean.

Tom Ret @ 8/1/2013 5:55 PM

If this chief was shooting dept ammo I missed that being mentioned.

Janet @ 8/2/2013 7:08 AM

Everyone is entitled to their opinion but there is a professional way to handle every controversial situation.

Tom @ 8/2/2013 7:11 AM

I hope this Chief exercises better judgement in other aspects of his job.

oldcop @ 8/2/2013 7:14 AM

All the ammo and constitutional rights aside I think he acted like a spoiled little kid rather than a professional. I think that is the point.

Lt Dan @ 8/2/2013 7:45 AM

Charles Ramsey puts on his Philadelphia Police Chief Uniform while wearing a badge and gun and goes around speaking as a proponent of gun control that MANY consider to be in violation of the second amendment. Chief Kessler addresses treaties that are in DIRECT CONFLICT with the constitution. Message and form considered, they are both wrong. 30 days off for both in Lt Dan's opinion.

Lt Dan @ 8/2/2013 7:46 AM

Charles Ramsey puts on his Philadelphia Police Chief Uniform while wearing a badge and gun and goes around speaking as a proponent of gun control that MANY consider to be in violation of the second amendment. Chief Kessler addresses treaties that are in DIRECT CONFLICT with the constitution. Message and form considered, they are both wrong. 30 days off for both in Lt Dan's opinion.

Capt. Crunch @ 8/2/2013 7:01 PM

There is somthing wrong with this picture. Chief Mark Kessler, gets the shaft and Chief Ray Schultz, goes away unnoticed.

Lenny @ 8/2/2013 9:43 PM

This twit should be banned from wearing a badge or carrying a gun. I'm quite sure most people would prefer to be pulled over by someone with a little more self control, and a slightly higher IQ than Ted Nugent.

Bob@Az. @ 8/2/2013 10:01 PM

timfromla & lenny: kalifornia is the place you want to be. tim, your t twit and should not be posting on a LEO site 'cause you are not fit to do anything but whine. lenny, are you a millionair? Is your name recognized by Americans? Probably not, so your IQ must be much lower then Mr.Nugents, right? Self control? Look in the mirror Lenny. Blues, Stay Safe.

KS45glockwildlifeLEO @ 8/3/2013 7:17 AM

As for the use of Dept issued weapons..having had experieince as a small city officer and Sgt.; all we had to do was to check it out and get authorization from the armorer if it was not a quarterly or annual weapons qualification. We had a 1928A1 mil-surplus Thompson in our armory, a 1917a2 BAR( Browning Auto Rifle) and 2 full auto M2 Carbines, for a former sheriff dept I worked for, ALL received by the agency after WW II. We used to check them out, JUST to have some oldtime rock and roll blast. WE supplied the ammo personally, but we never used them on the SWAT team I was on, just our AR15a2 carbines( we were mostly OUR OWN PURCHASE). AS for LENNY< YOU ARE THE TWIT!! if you support those media flunkies, and chiefs who think its ok to be in full dress blues and stand behind whatever quack spouting mindless drivel about cutting down on crime by banning guns...YOU ARE THE IDIOT!! The places that crime is occurring now around my state are the stupid business and few cities that have chosen to EXEMPT themselves from KS open carry and concealed carry laws!! Those places that are allowing OPEN carry, are getting held up by ARMED criminals, and the cities that are not allowing OPEN carry, have much higher assault, and personal attack crimes.

KS45glockwildlifeLEO @ 8/3/2013 7:24 AM

Ok to clarify my last post- the cities that allow OPEN carry DO NOT have a higher assault rate. And who DO NOT ALLOW OPEN CARRY have more robberies, assaults, and shootings.

Most of the shootings in the cities where OPEN CARRY IS ALLOWED, are the usual gang on gang(minority) violence that, unfortunately seems to be the status quo.
WE AS LEO's; need to be vigilant in our jobs. AND mindful of the politics that COULD jeapordize our nation and states and citizens rights and security!!
Semper FI!! Lock and Load!! Carry on!

Capt. Crunch @ 8/3/2013 11:10 AM


@BobAZ, I would appreciate if you would stop telling these Screwballs, to come to my fine state. You and I both know there is plenty of room in Arizona for them. In fact I probably have more people over for Sunday barbecue then you have in the whole town of Tortilla Flat.

Alex E @ 8/4/2013 1:17 PM

In typical sheeple fashion, everyone is talking about the language and the use of agency-owned weapons instead of the ACTUAL issue at hand: Secretary of State Kerry's unabashed support of the UN Small Arms Treaty.

Let me ask all of you high and mighty LEOs who are chastising Chief Kessler: Are you willing to line up and confiscate semi-automatic weapons simply because the Kerry-supported UN Treaty says so?

I sincerely hope not...but many of you probably will. I have two words for you: Nuremberg Trials. "Following orders" is NOT a valid legal defense.

For OUR Republic,
Alex Europa
Oath Keeper

Honorably Retired @ 8/5/2013 11:13 AM

Some of the comments here seem to stray far from the discussion of the Chief's behavior. Is it really appropriate for KS45glockwildlifeLEO to refer to Democrats as "social" (presumably he meant socialist) liberal commies and morons? I think that exceeds the guidelines for discussions here. KS45, do you think anyone who's not a Republican should be banned from law enforcement? Alex E, I haven't read Kerry's speech, but I'm full aware that the U.S. does not sign treaties with the UN nor are we bound to follow all of what they say. Are you suggesting that the Chief's behavior was appropriate because he disagrees with the the treaty? I, on the other hand, believe he he expressed his opinion as a private citizen, he would have been find. By representing himself as the chief who holds that opinion, he stepped outside the bounds.

Alana @ 8/28/2013 11:17 AM

There is a larger problem as directed in one of his videos depicting a target he called "Eric". Low and behold there is a Councilman named Eric, does this not constitute terroristic threats to an individual?

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