Polk County Sheriff’s Office Acknowledges Jailer’s Bigoted Social Media Posts

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Update, 7/12: Polk County Sheriff’s Office Sgt. Brandon Bracelin has further confirmed to the Informer that an investigation into Blaylock’s posts has been launched.

Original post: On Friday, Des Moines resident Chelsea Vargas posted a screenshot of a racist message she claimed to have received on Facebook from a jailer employed by the Polk County Sheriff’s Office:

Screenshot_2016-07-09-23-39-18The screenshot quickly spread on Facebook and several other bigoted messages the jailer, Alan Blaylock, had published on Twitter were later confirmed by the sheriff’s office via a tweet:

Today the Polk County Sheriff’s Office was made aware of some concerning Tweets posted by one of our employees. We’d like to thank the public for bringing this to our attention, as these are not the views of the PCSO, nor the views of our many fine emoloyees. Rest assure [sic], we are in the process of addressing this matter.

The office responded after Los Angeles-based reporter Aura Bogado tweeted screenshots of the messages that were apparently posted by Blaylock on a since-deleted account (his Facebook page also appears to have been taken down), both prior to and during his current employment.

The most recent message, from last Wednesday, read, “It’s sad how people in Walmart smell worse than the inmates I deal with in jail.”

Another, from June, said: “I love my job. I can run my housing unit the way I want. I can make it a chill night, or keep everyone on their toes lol. It’s too much fun.”

Messages apparently tweeted by Blaylock before he worked at the jail included this, from January 2013: “These two Mexican ladies next to me need to either quiet down, or speak English.” Another, from that September, referred to someone by the nickname “fagboy ass nigga,” and the following February he called a woman a “bitch.”

Another post on Blaylock’s Facebook account appeared to show that he was interviewed for his current position Feb. 17:

Screenshot_2016-07-09-23-39-30

Minutes from the Polk County Board of Supervisors’ March 15 meeting (PDF) appear to show that Blaylock was approved for a position as a detention officer with the Polk County Sheriff’s Office at a starting wage of $18.97 an hour.

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Gavin Aronsen is an editor and reporter for and founding member of the Iowa Informer. He previously worked as a city reporter for the Ames Tribune, research assistant to investigative journalist Wayne Barrett at the Village Voice, and in various roles at Mother Jones, where his work contributed to a National Magazine Award nomination for the magazine's digital media coverage of the Occupy Wall Street movement. Email: garonsen [at] iowainformer [dot] com.
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