Prosecuting attorney, Marceline Police Department at odds over derogatory T-shirt incident

Angie Talken
Linn County Leader

Linn County Prosecuting Attorney Shiante McMahon took to social media Sunday night alleging sexism and racism in the Marceline Police Department.

She posted a picture of a T-shirt that hung last year in a private office space at the police headquarters. The shirt was for her campaign and bore her name, but had been drawn on with a black marker adding various expletives and derogatory phrases.

Marceline City Manager Richard Hoon in a statement Tuesday acknowledged the incident occurred, saying the shirt was brought to the office and hung by an officer who no longer is employed by the department. Upon being reported to and seen by Police Chief Robert Donelson, the officer in question was ordered to remove the shirt from the premises, and the officer has since resigned, Hoon said.

In her post on the Linn County Prosecutor's Facebook page, McMahon says she strives to be fair in every interaction she has.

"The officers I work with would tell you that I don’t give my opinion on a law — my job is to uphold the law and support their efforts in protecting this community — and those that travel and visit our community. To ensure that everyone is treated with respect and dignity," she wrote in the post.

She then mentioned the issue and the reason for her post.

"All except one department. The Marceline Police Department. The photo you see is one of a campaign shirt of mine. The comments are theirs. The shirt was hanging in the Marceline Police Department. While other officers in this community were working extra hours to protect this community, this is what the Chief of Police and his officers thought was an appropriate use of their time," she wrote.

"The Marceline Police Department’s actions are not about this prosecutor at the end of the day," she wrote near the conclusion of her post. "Their hatred, racism and sexism are a reflection of their own making, how they treat others and a statement they were willing to make public in their very own police department."

Hoon said he was made aware of the social media post by a resident of Marceline sometime after 8 p.m. Monday.

Hoon said McMahon never approached him, Donelson, the mayor or any member of the city council with concerns about this issue. 

"On or about March of 2020, a former Marceline Police Officer brought to the department and hung derogatory-marked campaign shirt on the wall in the officer’s private office space," Hoon wrote in a statement to the Linn County Leader. "Upon being reported to and seen by the Chief of Police Robert Donelson, the officer was ordered to remove the shirt from the wall and the premises. The officer has since resigned from the Marceline Police Department and no longer works for the City of Marceline. 

"This vulgar display is NOT in keeping with the Marceline Police Department’s Mission Statement or the City’s Personnel Policies," Hoon continued. "Chief Donelson took immediate action in the removal of the offensive display. The City of Marceline and, specifically, the Marceline Police Department, does not condone this type of behavior or the actions of the offending officer."

Donelson said he was also told about the social media post from a resident at about the same time on Monday evening. 

Donelson said when he was made aware of the shirt being hung in the office, he took immediate action. He noted that the shirt was in a private office, and he was unsure of how long it was up before he saw it.

"I cannot tell you how long it was up due to the fact it was so long ago and I have no idea how long it was up before I knew about it," he said. "I directed the officer to take it down and that was done. No other issues of this kind have come up before or since."

McMahon could not be immediately reached Tuesday for further comment.