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Florida police officer resigns after 'active shooter' joke alarms coworkers

At least one officer thought he was serious

Image source: ABC Action News video screenshot

A police officer in Florida resigned last week over a comment he made last month that was perceived by at least one of his coworkers as a potential threat of a mass shooting, according to the Tampa Bay Times.

Detective Steve Bergren submitted his resignation before he could be fired for suggesting on multiple occasions to coworkers that there could be an "active shooter situation" if he didn't receive a job assignment he desired.

Bergren reportedly made a similar joke on at least two occasions. The most recent one, which was reported to superiors by another detective, was perceived to be a potential violent threat.

"The other detective said Bergren made this statement in a stoic manner and not giving any indication that this was a joke," investigators found.

The investigation into the comment revealed a previous occurrence of the joke—this time back in May, when it was also said in a stoic manner but received by those who heard it as a joke.

"They thought he was just joking," Maj. Jeffrey Young said. "That was his personality. He is stoic and they thought he just has a dry sense of humor."

The day after the joke was reported, Bergren was placed on paid leave during which he had to give up his badge, department ID and gun.

Bergren was apologetic in a letter to Tarpon Springs Police Chief Robert Kochen, saying he was joking but he now understands why such a joke is not acceptable for a law enforcement officer.

"I failed to appreciate how recent tragic events could lead to a statement referencing an active shooter being misperceived," Bergren wrote.

Even if he had not resigned, Bergren had been hit with a complaint of conduct unbecoming a police officer, and was subject to city rules which would have viewed the joke as a workplace threat—a fireable offense.

Young said that officers can't expect other people to look out for potential "red flags" of violence while not holding officers to the same standard.

"In today's society you just can't say something like that and not be held accountable for it," Young said.

(H/T Fox News)

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