WASHINGTON – If your job is protecting the first lady's motorcade, mouthing off about the boss can lead to more than a citation in a personnel file.
A District of Columbia police officer found that out this week when he came under investigation for threatening comments he was accused of making about first lady Michelle Obama, though there are conflicting reports about what was said, Police Chief Cathy Lanier said in an email Friday. She did not elaborate.
Police have not revealed what the officer, assigned to a unit that provides a motor escort for the White House and other dignitaries, is accused of saying, and it's not clear how seriously the remarks were meant to be taken. The department and the U.S. Secret Service are investigating what a police spokeswoman called "inappropriate comments." While the Secret Service investigates threats against the first family as a matter of routine, the comments no doubt take on added seriousness given the officer's role within the department.
The officer has been placed on administrative duty while authorities investigate, Mayor Vincent Gray said.
"It's hard to believe that a police officer would do something, say the kind of things" that were alleged, Gray said on his regularly scheduled appearance on NewsChannel8. But, he added, "There's no room for jokes or frivolity when you're dealing with the first family."
The Washington Post cited anonymous police officials in reporting that the officer told colleagues he would shoot the first lady and then showed a photo on his phone of a gun he would use, and that another officer reported the comment to a lieutenant.
D.C. police spokeswoman Gwendolyn Crump has declined to discuss the comments beyond saying they're under investigation.
"We don't know whether there's any truth to this or not, but it's obviously serious enough to warrant a very intense ... investigation," Gray said.
Secret Service spokesman Edwin Donovan said the agency was aware of the report and was taking "appropriate follow-up steps." A White House spokesman said President Barack Obama was also aware of the investigation but had nothing to say about it, and he referred questions to the Secret Service. Typically, in the case of a threat against a member of the first family, the Secret Service interviews participants and witnesses and then decides how to proceed.
Associated Press writer Jim Kuhnhenn contributed to this report.