Nashville EMS chief cites personal issues as reason for anti-LGBT social media posts
Nashville EMS District Chief Tim Lankford is expected to receive a decision soon from a Nashville Fire Department review board as it ponders disciplinary action regarding anti-LGBT opinions he posted on Facebook.
As we reported over a month ago, Lankford was among a number of fire department staff targeted by the blog East Nashville News for their online proclivities. Examples included firefighters posting photos on Instagram of themselves with blazing fires in the background. Lankford caught the eye of O&AN due to his sometimes egregiously anti-LGBT posts to his personal Facebook account.
"The first man who goes into the restroom with my daughter will not have to worry about surgery," read one post.
While every public employee has the right to speak his or her mind, Lankford ran afoul of the NFD social media policy which required employees to either explicitly state that opinions posted are theirs alone or not acknowledge their employer at all. It wasn't until O&AN first reported on this story that Lankford removed reference to his employer. He has since removed his personal Facebook profile entirely from the social networking site.
At a recent disciplinary hearing, Lankford acknowledged the anti-LGBT opinions and expressed regret for posting them. From The Tennessean article:
"I don't even know why I said that stuff because I don't believe it. I've got several friends on this depart who are gay or lesbian," Lanford told Fire Commander Tim Anderson and assistant chiefs Walter Demonbreun Jr. and Lenny Manning during a July 12 disciplinary hearing. "I've never had my character called into question. l I don't like it and I don't like hurting people."
He went on to claim his reference to not being able to function at his job the day of the Supreme Court decision on marriage equality last summer was because his first wife had recently died.
Regarding the weeks that it's taking the fire department to adjudicate this issue—especially in comparison to the quick work the police force is doing regarding similar instances of abrasive social media posts in light of the Black Lives Matter protests—the NFD has confirmed to O&AN that Lankford had been on sick leave for a number of weeks and has only recently returned to work.
UPDATE: As of late Friday, July 22 we have confirmed that the decision from the disciplinary hearing has been revealed and shared with Mr. Lankford. Unofficially: we know that he remains on the job, but that the matter has moved from the fire department to the city HR office.
Opinions vary on Fire Dep't social media story