Fire chief retires after discipline over social media post

Published: Feb. 27, 2015 at 10:21 PM EST|Updated: Mar. 29, 2015 at 9:21 PM EDT
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Jeff Dulin (WBTV archive photo)
Jeff Dulin (WBTV archive photo)

CHARLOTTE, NC (WBTV) - A deputy chief with the Charlotte Fire Department (CFD) that was recently placed on administrative leave over a social media post is now retiring, according to officials.

Deputy Chief Jeff Dulin retired at 5 p.m. Friday.

"I want to thank Deputy Chief Dulin for his 32 years of service to Charlotte and the Charlotte Fire Department," said Fire Chief Jon Hannan. "From fighting fires to his dedication to Emergency Management and Homeland Security, he has served the City and its citizens well, especially in his leading role in planning for the Democratic National Convention."

Dulin was placed on administrative leave five days before the department announced his retirement after concerns were raised about a post on his social media account.

"The Charlotte Fire Department takes any and all concerns seriously that are brought to its attention and looks into them immediately," CFD officials said in a statement released Monday.

"Each fire department employee deserves to have issues raised about their performance thoroughly investigated," the statement continued. "That is true whether it is a personal or professional matter, and whether an employee is in a leadership position or not."

Another CFD employee, Crystal Eschert, was fired three months before for a controversial post on social media involving Ferguson, Missouri.

The officials did not say exactly what Dulin reportedly posted, but according to The Charlotte Observer, Dulin shared an image of former Olympian Bruce Jenner that was making the rounds on social media.

The image, the Observer reports, showed "a young Jenner on the cover of a Wheaties cereal box in 1976, the year he won the gold medal in the Summer Olympics decathlon. Next to it is a Photoshopped image of Jenner – believed to be in the midst of transitioning to a woman – as he looks today on a box of Froot Loops cereal."

According to the Observer, even City Manager Ron Carlee spoke out about the post, calling it "highly offensive and inappropriate."

Dulin also released a statement about the matter.

"I first want to apologize if anything that was shared on my social media account caused hurt feelings for or offended anyone, whether in the LGBTQ community or the community at large," Dulin wrote. "While I did not create the picture that was widely circulated on the Internet and Facebook, it was posted to my account. I take full responsibility for the lapse in judgment and am truly sorry for that."

Dulin continued, "I want everyone to know that I am by no means a person who holds any prejudicial feelings toward any member of our community. This is incredibly personal to me, and while I will not go into details, I want to assure everyone that I respect people of all backgrounds and sexual preference."

"My life for the past 32 years has been dedicated to the Charlotte Fire Department, which means I have dedicated 32 years of my life to equally serving and protecting the citizens of Charlotte – all the citizens of Charlotte," Dulin concluded. "I hope those decades of service are a more accurate reflection of my character than this one brief lapse."

On the same day Dulin was placed on leave, an audit report was released from the city of Charlotte showing missing documentation and payment duplication in some city employees' travel expense reimbursements.

According to the report, Dulin had to pay back $2,750 in travel expenses, the most of any city employee. The next highest were former Assistant City Manager Eric Campbell, who had to pay back $144, and former city employee Chuck Robinson who paid back nearly $540.

CFD responded for Dulin, saying that he traveled a great deal and logged 36 trips during the 3 years in question. They said that all the money was paid back when he was notified.

Dulin, himself, did not explain all the accounting mistakes.

Dulin's responsibilities as deputy chief included overseeing communications, Charlotte-Mecklenburg Emergency Management, special operations and training.

The department has not said if Dulin's retirement was connected to the social media post.

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