Detective Michael Lankford is no longer employed with the Sanford Police Department, officials have confirmed to The Rant.
The Sanford Herald reported on Wednesday that Lankford, a 13-year employee, had been on administrative leave pending an investigation since Tuesday after being accused of having membership in a Facebook group promoting the Confederacy. The Herald’s story does not appear to be posted to the newspaper’s website.
Citing personnel laws, department officials didn’t disclose whether Lankford was terminated or resigned, or why. His employment with the department ended on Wednesday, July 15.
Lankford had been accused on July 11 by a Twitter account using the name We Will Be Ruthless of being a member of a private Facebook group called Confederate Resistance. The Twitter account flagged Lankford’s membership in what it called “a super secret racist Facebook group” based on an apparent post by Lankford in which he identified himself to other members as working in law enforcement and indicated possible plans to “start another page under a different name so I can be more of myself and show my Confederate pride.”
— We Will Be Ruthless (@RuthlessWe) July 11, 2020
Because the group is private, the content is not viewable to non-members. The group’s published rules indicate “no racist or abusive comments” and “racist or Anti-American (i.e. KKK/LOS) groups are not welcome to recruit or spread their propaganda on our page.” Since Saturday, when the We Will Be Ruthless account tweeted Lankford’s involvement with the group, it has made multiple requests via Twitter for comment or action by Sanford city government, as well as Lee County government, which has no oversight of or connection to the city police department.
A request on Saturday for more information from the We Will Be Ruthless Twitter account was not answered.