FARGO — The Cass County Sheriff’s Office could decide as early as mid-week whether a jail employee should be punished for posting a video on social media that portrays a derogatory stereotype that Native Americans drink alcohol excessively.
Internal investigators were slated to wrap up their probe on Monday, July 6, into potential policy violations surrounding a TikTok video posted by a non-licensed correctional employee, according to Sheriff Jesse Jahner. Supervisors of the employee will make recommendations for disciplinary action after reviewing the finding of the investigation, Jahner said.
The sheriff then will speak with the staff member before making the final decision, which could include unpaid suspension or termination of employment, he said.
The TikTok video, which apparently has either been blocked from public view or deleted, features a woman speaking with an apparent Native American accent. The woman’s face is not visible in the video, but she films it in a vehicle while saying there is something wrong with her car.
“Every time I do this and turn it on and go like this,” she says as she turns the wheel as if driving the vehicle, “I always end up at the liquor store.”
The video then pans to a Happy Harry’s Bottle Shop in Fargo. The TikTok post was tagged as #nativeamerican, #liquorstore and #funny, among other hashtags.
The sheriff’s office announced Sunday that it was made aware of what it called “an insensitive social media post.” It was posted using a personal social media account while off duty, and not on the Cass County Sheriff’s Office Facebook account.
“The Cass County Sheriff’s Office does not condone behavior, conduct and/or comments that are derogatory in nature, and we expect all employees to maintain a high level of professionalism, both on and off duty, at all times,” the sheriff’s office said in a statement.
Jahner declined to name the employee, citing North Dakota law that allows public entities to withhold records during an internal investigation that is underway. The employee is on administrative leave, he said.
There are several parts of Cass County policy the post potentially violates, including using social networking sites on personal time to make disparaging remarks.
The Forum has decided to not name the employee until the sheriff’s office has decided what action is necessary. The employee, who also has either blocked her Facebook profile from public view or deleted it entirely, did not return a phone message seeking comment.