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    Deputy suspended for posting pics of himself and his K-9, beer in mouth, on MySpace

    INDIAN RIVER COUNTY A sheriff's deputy told Internal Affairs investigators he was "just joking around" when he posted comments and pictures of himself and his department-issued K-9 on the Web site www.myspace.com.
    However, the Sheriff's Office didn't find the site funny, especially when one of the pictures showed the K-9, named Kato, with a beer can in his mouth.

    Deputy Christian Mathisen, 27, the newest officer with the Sheriff's Office K-9 squad, was suspended Wednesday for three days without pay for posting the pictures and making other belittling comments about law enforcement, according to the Internal Affairs report.
    The investigation found Mathisen violated four departmental code of conduct policies: use of profanity or vulgarity, misrepresentation of an officer, publishing images of him and the K-9 without authorization and intentional abuse of sheriff's equipment.

    The Sheriff's Office last month started to investigate Mathisen's personal area on myspace.com, a Web site where anyone can create a free profile and upload pictures, text and video for others to view. Friends also can post comments on someone's profile with an instant-messaging type of system.

    Mathisen's pictures included images of him with a disco-style wig on in front of his police cruiser. A picture of Kato with the beer can in his mouth followed Mathisen's screen name, "bad dog, no beer."

    He also had derogatory comments about cops listed in the "occupation" field of the site, the report stated. The pictures and comments had "negative connotations" about law enforcement and were "unprofessional and vulgar to the general public," according to the report.

    The pictures and comments were immediately taken down when sheriff's officials told Mathisen about their investigation.

    However, Mathisen said during an interview Wednesday with the Press Journal he had the impression only people he invited to the site could view it. He said it was a "gag site" he strickly used to keep in touch with acquaintances from high school, college and others he befriended.

    "I had no idea everyone could see it if they were searching the (myspace.com) site," said Mathisen. "If I would have known that, I would have never put those pictures on there. I mean, I could see how someone in the general public who doesn't know me could think this is wrong."

    He said the site reflects his joking personality around friends and solely was used as a joke for them. Even the picture with Kato was a gag because he said the dog picked up the can while taking him for a walk in his neighborhood.

    "Everything was a gag on there," he said. "I apologize for it if someone was offended. I learned a lesson from this, that's for sure."

    Sheriff Roy Raymond said he knows myspace.com has been used by older men attempting to look for young girls with open profiles. But he said a thorough and in-depth look into Mathisen's site proved he simply was using it as a tool to keep in touch with friends.

    "I thought about removing him from the K-9 squad because of this, but his supervisor said he has been an excellent employee. He also just completed his K-9 certification," Raymond said. "Most of this was poor discretion ... the ramifications of stupidity."

    Mathisen was hired in February 2004 as a road deputy. He quickly was promoted to the Special Operations Unit and received Kato in January. He received verbal counseling earlier in the year after his newly acquired dog bit a neighbor on the hand.

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    Iron Man's Avatar
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