Marion Police investigate YouTube videos posted by officer - WSIL-TV 3 Southern Illinois

Marion Police investigate YouTube videos posted by officer

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MARION (WSIL) -- City leaders are reviewing their social media policy after a long-time police officer posted controversial videos to YouTube. 

In those videos, Sergeant Michael Baxter claims to be living in his office at the police station, calling himself a "modern homeless man" even showing off his wardrobe and air mattress. 

"First off, you got to have a place to call home. So this would be my apartment, or what some would call an office," said Sgt. Baxter in the video. 

According to court records Sgt. Baxter and his wife are going through a divorce. His wife filed for an Order of Protection against him, but those same records show it was dismissed. 

Interim Chief Tina Morrow says because of the divorce, Baxter has been storing personal items in his office but staying with co-workers. 

"He is not living at the department. There is absolutely no space for him to actually live here," said Morrow. 

But in one of the videos, Baxter takes viewers on a tour showing how his bookcase is now a shoe rack and his file cabinet, a dresser. He even admits to being the first officer to ever use the shower at the department.  

"Ever since they built the place, it's never been used. Well now I'm homeless, and it gets used every day," said Baxter. 

The city couldn't provide his recent salary information but according to the Illinois Public Salaries Database in 2017, Baxter earned more than $84,000. 

When News 3 asked Chief Morrow why the officer didn't find an apartment, she said he has a home but can't go there, "He does have a home here and that's part of the contention to the domestic situation that is being addressed." 

In the Marion Police Code of Ethics it says "I will behave in a manner that does not bring discredit to me or my agency". But, in one of the videos Baxter records himself with one hand while driving a stick shift vehicle.

"There are clear cut violations to be potentially addressed here and that's upon review of all these videos from start to finish," said Morrow. 

 Morrow said Baxter will continue to serve as a police office as they review his conduct, "He really did believe that it was just his poor attempt at joke of his current situation and he did not realize there were going to be the long-reaching ramifications that there are."

In a third video, Baxter is seen with his badge and service weapon walking into the police headquarters talking about his air fryer then recording a cooking video. 

Mayor Mike Absher released this statement Tuesday afternoon: 

The Mayor's office and Public Safety Commissioner John Barwick are aware of a series of social media posts made by a Marion Police Officer. Alongside Interim Chief Tina Morrow, we are working to ensure that Marion Police Officers are aware of the Department's Social Media Policy and that their personal social media presence will not interfere or depict to reflect the City of Marion or the Marion Police Department in any way. In addition to the posts in question, we are investigating any other potential conduct violations to ensure that the officer in question is performing his duties, as a sworn Marion Police Officer, to his full capacity.

Below is the full Marion Police Department Code of Ethics. 

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