Newark police lieutenant fired over ‘gorilla’ Facebook post about Mayor Ras Baraka

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NEWARK, N.J. — A veteran Newark police lieutenant was fired over a Facebook exchange that referred to the city's mayor, Ras Baraka, as a gorilla, Sgt. Ron Glover said Thursday.

Lt. Anthony Caruso was terminated Wednesday, Glover said.

Police Director Eugene Venable said in a statement that the department won't condone the type of behavior that Caruso displayed while "referring to a member of our city administration as a gorilla."

NJ.com reported the department launched an investigation in July after a screenshot of Caruso's Facebook conversation was sent to authorities.

A retired officer posted a photo of a gorilla with a caption, "LMAO...How's your mayor?" referring to Baraka. Caruso replied with the word "Exactly!!!!"

Caruso was placed on active duty pending investigation after the department got a hold of the screenshots.

The department has dealt with social media issues among its ranks before. Venable told NJ.com "embarrassing instances of online activity by members of the department" in the past caused the department to implement a strict social media policy. Any content that could be misconstrued and cause a negative shadow on the department violates the policy.

"It's unfortunate that this happened and we will not tolerate an atmosphere of bigotry and intolerance anywhere in this Administration," Baraka said in a statement to NJ.com in July.

"I still believe we have the best police force in the State of New Jersey."

Glover said the department doesn't actively monitor employees' social media activity, but that Caruso willfully violated a policy governing online conduct.

Caruso couldn't be reached for comment.