MSP director creates a controversy

What in the world was she thinking? Or was she thinking?

Folks in this town are scratching their heads wondering why the state police director waded into a controversy that she did not have to wade into.

But there was Col. Kristie Kibby Etue on her personal Facebook page blasting NFL players who took a knee during the national anthem to protest racial injustice.

The MSP director called them every name in the book and then some. Only to find out that the whole world would soon read her post setting off yet another firestorm in the Snyder administration.

Once the Free Press published her remarks, her department lamely suggested that she did not write those words but took them from another site. It didn’t much matter to her critics because since she published those words they in effect became her words.

Shortly thereafter came an apology which her critics did not buy either. She said it was a mistake to post this on the Internet and if anyone was offended, she apologized.

That was good enough for Gov. Rick Snyder who refused to fire his first and only MSP director even though there were plenty of folks who told him to do just that. They argued her “apology” did not go to the content of her post but the mere fact that she posted it.

So the impression remained that she believed the critical comments she posted.

If this had been anybody else in state government it would have been a problem but it took on greater gravity because this was a person who presides over a department that is diverse but was late coming to the party on making sure all the troopers on the streets were not just white guys in a uniform.

If you were an African-American state trooper you had to wonder if your boss had your back? And did her remarks set a tone in the department that if you were a minority and concerned about civil rights and justice, she was not on the same page.

Sen. Mike Nofs (R-Battle Creek) came to Col. Etue’s defense as did lots of other folks who were offended that football players would allegedly disrespect the national anthem.

As a former state trooper he worked side by side with her at the Coldwater post and he asserts, “she is a hard worker and not a racist.” He concedes she made a mistake but apologized for it.

Sen. Coleman Young, II (D-Detroit) was not appeased. He acknowledges her right to state her opinion but he found her post to be disrespectful of the struggle that African-Americans have faced in this country.

Later that same day, 10 Democratic members of the Michigan House locked arms during the Pledge of Allegiance. Some of them refused to say the pledge and leaders of that protest said it was to send a message about Col. Etue’s conduct and “racial injustice.”

Conservative House member Rep. Gary Glenn of Midland denounced the protest as disrespectful to those who served this country.

The MSP department will take disciplinary action against the director. It could be a written reprimand or a five day suspension for violating the Internet policy. It’s unclear if that would also mean a loss of pay. That policy allows troopers to share their opinions but not if it damages the department’s image.

It appears clear to her detractors that she was not thinking about that when she hit the send button.