A volunteer reserve police officer in Southern California has been placed on administrative leave and may face disciplinary action after posting a video to YouTube that starts with her saying, “I hate bicyclists, every single one of them.”
The officer, Laura Weintraub, subsequently deleted the video, posted to her Cupholder Commentary channel, but not before it had been mirrored by other YouTube users, while the Santa Paula Police Department came under criticism for her video on its Facebook page, reports NBC Los Angeles.
Weintraub, a former actress who starred in the films Identity Theft and Vice Squad Vixens: Busted!, also asks a man driving the car in which she is travelling how much she would have to pay for him to run over a cyclist, to which he replies, “How much do you have in your wallet right now?”
The video concludes with a still photo of a driver ploughing into a bike race, with the text, "Like you've never thought about it...;" the picture itself is of an incident in Mexico in 2008 in which a drunk-driver from the United States killed one rider and injured at least 10 more.
On Friday, Santa Paula Police Chief Steven McLean wrote on its Facebook page: “I had a very active day to day. Think I just might have a beer.”
Some users of the social network took that as a cue to criticise the video posted by Weintraub, who does not mention in it that she is a volunteer reserve officer for the police department.
One, Michael Broadbent, wrote: “Along with that beer you deserve to be chastised and publicly shamed for condoning such horrible behavior from anyone associated with a police uniform. Hopefully she gets a taste of karma for her form of satire,” wrote Michael Broadbent.
The police department replied to one poster that Weintraub “does some great satire videos in her personal spare time,” adding: “Stay safe out there riding your bike and remember to obey all the rules of the road, a lot of your fellow bikers seem oblivious to the laws!” they added.
But on Saturday morning, there came confirmation that she had been suspended from duties, with a message saying: “The purpose of this post is to notify the community that the volunteer who made the video about cyclist has been placed on Administrative Leave pending an investigation.”
Another volunteer officer who made a comment on the video has also been placed on administrative leave.
In a statement, Chief McLean said: "I am extremely embarrassed and angry at everything that she said in the video...Her statements on the video do not reflect the views of the Santa Paula Police Department."
Weintraub, who said that the video was meant to be humorous, has apologised on Facebook.
She said: "I would like to apologize to all those who have been offended by what was intended to be a satirical video on cyclists. It was never meant to be hurtful or harmful in anyway, I am a human being, I made a mistake, I have learned from this and ask for your forgiveness.
"The responses have shown me overwhelmingly just how hurtful my comments were to some and that is not at all what I intended. As soon as I knew, I removed the video immediately.
“The response from the cycling community has made me aware of the sport and its safety issues and challenges with drivers on the road of which I was completely unaware. My heartfelt apologies to those that have been offended and to those who face these very real challenges," she added.
One local resident, Terry Hylton, told ABC7: "I think it's awful. I think it's scary to know that we have a police officer out there that has those kind of thoughts."
Simon has been news editor at road.cc since 2009, reporting on 10 editions and counting of pro cycling’s biggest races such as the Tour de France, stories on issues including infrastructure and campaigning, and interviewing some of the biggest names in cycling. A law and languages graduate, published translator and former retail analyst, his background has proved invaluable in reporting on issues as diverse as cycling-related court cases, anti-doping investigations, and the bike industry. He splits his time between London and Cambridge, and loves taking his miniature schnauzer Elodie on adventures in the basket of her Elephant Bike.