KAYSVILLE, Utah — This is a story about Kaysville police officer Mike Criddle, his wife, and the ramifications of online impersonation.
Officer Mike Criddle and his wife Amber say their lives were turned upsidedown by a woman posing as Criddle’s wife and making racist comments on Facebook.
The impersonation was discovered in late May 2020, around the time that George Floyd was killed in Minneapolis. Floyd died after a police officer, Derek Chauvin, knelt on his neck for more than 9 minutes in the process of making an arrest.
Floyd’s death led to global protests against police brutality and for police accountability.
After Floyd’s death, someone behind a Facebook account using the name of Amber Criddle posted this comment: “one less Black man off the street.”
Death threats against Officer Mike Criddle, leaving work and home
That’s when the Criddle’s lives changed.
“We were suspended for weeks from our jobs. We left the state and didn’t feel safe in our own home,” Amber said. And the Criddle’s received death threats.
Criddle was placed on administrative leave as a police investigation continued. When his leave was up, he asked his chief if he could use his own time to remain off of the force. His chief agreed.
Host Dave Noriega was concerned about what he felt was a “guilt by association,” suspension of Officer Mike Criddle.
“Officers are held to a different standard than most other industries. We have policies about being intimately involved with people who violate the law,” Olberg said.
“We have to hold the public’s trust. If we don’t hold the public’s trust, we don’t have any real legitimacy.”
And Olberg said Criddle’s suspension was also a signal to the residents of Kaysville that Olberg understood the gravity of his stewardship over their safety, and frankly, their money.
“The public relies on me to use my best judgment in managing public safety, personnel, policy considerations.”
What happens now?
Chief Olberg told KSL Newsradio hosts Dave & Dujanovic that police believe they’ve identified the culprit. Olberg says she has targeted others in the past and that they are people with whom the suspect had negative interactions.
Police are unsure about whether they can file charges. They have not, as yet, made an arrest.
“Although I think, as a country, we’ve been seeing more and more of this online impersonation, we’re probably a little behind on legislating some of it,” Kaysville Police Chief Sol Olberg told KSL Newsradio hosts Dave and Dujanovic.
In fact, Utah lawmakers just passed H.B.239, Online Impersonation Prohibition. According to the text of the bill, “it makes it a criminal offense, under certain circumstances, to impersonate an individual online with the intent to harm, defraud, intimidate, or threaten any individual.”
It is currently awaiting approval or veto by Gov. Spencer Cox.