Mask on? FUCK it, mask off

What is that and what are those?

Hi! This is the first post of my newsletter, ‘All Cops Are Posters.’

I’m hoping to send out weekly-ish updates on what’s happening with law enforcement on social media, with the big caveat that I’m looking to keep things as light as they can be when it comes to writing about policing—basically, I’m not going to be reposting graphic images or videos of police brutality. I’m looking to document the Twitter outrage campaigns; the tearful, front-facing camera confessionals filmed outside of a particularly disrespectful McDonald’s; the embarrassing shit that would be even funnier if all of these people didn’t have guns and the right to use them with virtual impunity.

At some point, I might post interviews or put out some deeper dives—but for now, we’re reaping what my Google Alerts, hideous TikTok algorithm, and Twitter lists hath sown. Okay, mission statement over, subscribe if you’re into it and onto the real stuff.

This week, Ace Hardware bravery aside, we’re gonna focus on a flashpoint for police departments across the country: face masks, mask mandates, and the cops who hate them.

Mask me no questions…

Footage of Pittsburgh PD officer Paul Abel went viral last week after he was caught on camera on September 6, arresting a man who asked him about his Thin Blue Line face mask—which, duh, he is wearing incorrectly in all of the video footage of the incident.

According to the Pittsburgh City Paper, the man Abel detained called the officer’s mask offensive, probably because of its Blue Lives Matter connotations. In response, Abel reportedly demanded to see the man’s ID, screamed at him, cuffed him, searched his backpack, and refused to tell him why he was being arrested.

Per a story in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette from 2008, flagged by the City Paper, Abel has a history of colorful misconduct allegations. These include:

  • Bragging about committing violence, while in uniform, at his stepdaughters’ middle school

  • Getting in a drunken bar fight with his then-wife’s brother, and

  • Posting about earning the nickname “Pit Bull” because he had a “tendency to knock the [expletive] out of people” on his MySpace page. OK, vintage!

Not to be like “I miss Vine,” but I do miss seeing young people giving cops shit about their clothes without getting cuffed and reportedly spending ten hours in jail.

How do you spell “maskless?” N-Y-P-D

Cops are bad at wearing masks. I don’t even feel like I have to cite my sources for this one; they hate it, and they suck at it. In fact, police departments and local law enforcement agencies across the country have been refusing to enforce mask mandates at a city or state level since the spring.

That’s why it feels a little… let’s say, “funny” that the country’s largest police department in the country is spearheading a “crackdown” to promote mask-wearing on the New York City subway in an initiative that began on Monday.

Yes, the NYPD is going to enforce mandatory mask-wearing on trains—the same NYPD who showed up in droves to a maskless Labor Day BBQ Blowout and then had a big, maskless indoor party less than a week later.

Is this just another excuse to expand cop power in New York City? Is someone, somewhere dumb enough to think this is a good anti-COVID move? Or is the entire NYPD actually working undercover as a bunch of dudes who stand around, smoke cigars in public parks, and don’t give a shit about public health?

Blocked and Reported

Every week, I’ll end the newsletter with a roundup of reports on law enforcement officers who’ve been suspended, fired, or otherwise disciplined for Posting. (I wrote about the initial wave of disciplinary action against keyboard warrior-cops in June, but the hits just keep on coming.)

  • Police Commissioner Robert O'Shaughnessy in Stonington, Connecticut told a Zoom meeting of his peers and other concerned citizens on Thursday that he “is willing to sit down with anyone who wants to discuss his posts and values” after landing in hot water for some spicy reposts about immigrants and gender identity.

  • Also on Thursday, Boulder, Colorado police officer Waylon Lolotai resigned from his position with the BPD. Lolotai’s departure came after he was placed on administrative leave, in the wake of allegations that he used his apparel brand’s social media page to celebrate police violence, and sent threatening postcards to local NAACP members. Read the deeply weird full story from BoulderBeat here.

  • On Sunday, an unidentified Le Mars, Iowa police officer was placed on administrative leave following the discovery of “concerning social media posts.”

  • On Monday, the Cambridge Police Department in Cambridge, Massachusetts opened an investigation into the “deeply disturbing social media statements” of Lt. Shawn Lynch. Lynch reportedly took to Twitter to share his musings on subjects like Black Lives Matter supporters and Rep. Ayanna Pressley’s alopecia from since-deleted account “@CPD496”… AKA his police department and badge number.

Questions, comments, corrections? (“You don’t know what it’s like to be a police officer” is not a correction.) Shoot me an email at, or DM me on Twitter.