St. Paul PD investigating photo of purported off-duty cop crossdressing as Muslim woman

This isn't a good look for any police officer, but it's especially bad for one working in a city with a large Muslim population.
This isn't a good look for any police officer, but it's especially bad for one working in a city with a large Muslim population.

:::: UPDATE :::: Robert Ruth, hijab-wearing St. Paul cop, apologizes for culturally insensitive photo

Well, this is bizarre.

SEE ALSO: MNGOP Rep. Cindy Pugh compares Muslim women to garbage bags

Over the weekend, a photo purportedly showing an off-duty St. Paul police officer dressed in a hijab with a Target badge and wearing lipstick made the rounds on social media. On Sunday evening, D.C.-based journalist and former St. Paul resident Mukhtar Ibrahim brought the photo to the St. Paul PD's attention. Yesterday morning, St. Police police confirmed the photo is under investigation.

It appears the photo was originally taken around last Halloween, and it was initially posted on Instragram by a user with the handle michaelhart1997. His account is now protected, but it wasn't when Ibrahim managed to take a screengrab of the photo with its original caption -- "Officer Rob Buth wins my vote for best costume."

Yesterday, Target confirmed to the Pioneer Press that the man seen in the photo "worked as an off-duty police officer" at the Target off University Avenue in St. Paul. Target won't say whether the person who first posted the photo on the internet is an employee.

The Pioneer Press reports that there is an officer Robert Buth on the St. Paul PD's K-9 unit.

A Target spokesperson "said the background in the image is not a Target facility," the PiPress report continues. "In the photo, a calendar showing an officer and police dog is visible on the wall behind the man, and is turned to the October 2012 page."

As you'd imagine, the photo offended more than a few people. On Twitter, folks have been using the #CultureNOTCostume hashtag to tweet about the controversy. Many are calling for the St. Paul PD to put officers through more rigorous diversity training.

Yesterday afternoon, St. Paul Police Chief Tom Smith issued a statement regarding the photo. Here it is in its entirety:

After an image was brought to my attention this morning, I ordered an immediate investigation to determine all of the facts surrounding it. The Saint Paul Police Department has worked hard to establish a strong and respectful relationship with our Muslim communities, and I will not allow these types of images to erode that relationship. Diversity is one of the greatest strengths of the City of Saint Paul, and we expect each one of our officers to respect and take pride in serving each of our diverse communities.

Yet the PD still hasn't confirmed that the man in the photo is officer Buth. Seems like it shouldn't take days of investigation to figure that out, right?

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