Police Officer Fired for Using Snapchat Ski Mask Lens Filter

A person wearing a digital ski mask filter from snapchat, titled "ski mask lens" by daniel dupont, with hashtags and a text overlay regarding termination of employment due to the filter's connotations.

A police officer in Ohio was fired after posting a Snapchat photo of himself using the Ski Mask Lens filter in the app — a photo the town’s mayor says has “troubling racial connotations.”

Cincinnati news station FOX19 obtained public records that reveal how Michael Reschke was terminated from the Lockland Police Department in August 2023.

The trouble began after Reschke used the Snapchat filter to superimpose a black ski mask over his face.

A police officer wearing a black balaclava, sitting in an office environment with visible name patches and badge on the uniform.

Another officer in the force, Heather Dobbins, saw the photo on Snapchat and took a screenshot of it. Reschke then noticed on Snapchat that Dobbins had captured the screenshot, and he messaged her to ask about it.

Screenshot of a smartphone displaying a text conversation. the chat includes emotive stickers and a question about plans, responded to humorously about common sense. the background includes other blurred social media elements.

Screenshot of a messaging app conversation on a smartphone discussing the appropriateness of jokes made on a snapchat filter, with one person advising caution and the other responding defensively.

“You have zero common sense dude,” Dobbins told Reschke.

“What’s that have to do with a filter?” Reschke replied.

“Lol… well depending on who sees that it can be extremely offensive… I would think you would have known that before you put that on your snap story while in uniform,” Dobbins answered.

“I would also think I could trust my friends on Snapchat with a filter that looked racist not to be taken as anything else other than a joke,” Reschke replied.

“Some things shouldn’t be joked about…” Dobbins said.

“Some people shouldn’t be on my Snapchat recording things…” Reschke replied.

“Your representing the police department I work for and I don’t appreciate it at all,” Dobbins said.

“Calm down, this is between us, not the mayor council and chief,” Reschke replied.

But the police chief would soon be involved after Dobbins sent the photo to him, and Reschke was placed on administrative leave. Two days later, Lockland Mayor Mark Mason Sr. fired Reschke over email.

“You were placed on administrative leave on Aug. 23, 2023, in response to (a) complaint concerning a Snapchat photo you posted publicly that shows you in uniform, at the Village of Lockland police station, using a filter that possesses troubling racial connotations,” says the email obtained by FOX19 through a public records request.

“I have reviewed the conduct complained of and find that this conduct violates Lockland Police Personnel Code 320.5 in that it discredits the integrity of, and reflects unfavorably upon, the Lockland Police Department and its members. Because you remain within your probationary period until Oct. 17, 2023, please be advised that your employment with the Village of Lockland, Ohio is terminated effective immediately.”

An official letter from the mayor of lockland, dated august 25, 2023, placing a police chief on administrative leave due to a complaint and requesting the chief to remove personal belongings from the police property.

An image of a letter addressed to carrie surber from krista blum dated august 25, 2023, regarding the termination of employment at the village of lockland, with final paycheck details included.

A few weeks after being fired in Lockland, Reschke was hired as a police officer in the town of North College Hill located about 10 minutes away. Reschke resigned from the new position in February 2024 and now claims he was pushed out of the department because of political pressure that Lockland applied on North College Hill.

“I was never asked anything pertaining to the video that I sent to a closed group and was targeted by people with an unfortunate agenda once they had knowledge, I was applying to be a police officer in other cities and townships,” Reschke apparently wrote in a complaint letter sent to Lockland’s mayor and city council.

In a separate complaint letter sent to North College Hill’s mayor, Reschke wrote: “[North College Hill Police Chief] Ryan Schrand and other command staff assured me that what happened in Lockland wasn’t fair and wasn’t what they were making it to be, and assured me that the city would not make that mistake. The Snapchat Balaclavia ski mask filter that Heather Dobbins made out to be blackface was exaggerated and blown out of proportion.”

A snapchat lens preview page showing a person in a balaclava mask filter with various user photos below demonstrating the same filter.
The Ski Mask Lens filter on Snapchat.

Lockland Mayor Mark Mason tells FOX19 that he stands by his decision to fire Reschke.

“The Village of Lockland firmly stands by its decision to dismiss Officer Reschke as a result of his conduct in uniform on social media,” Mason says. “The Village’s police department has no room for conduct that is racist or even creates the appearance of racism or poor judgment. This conduct does not meet the standard of conduct expected of its officers and will not be tolerated.”

Reschke’s lawyer, Steve Imm, tells FOX19 that his client was a victim of injustice and that his career was harmed as a result.

“What Lockland did to Michael is a disgrace,” Imm says. “It should be ashamed of what it has done to him. Michael is not a racist. He is not within 1000 miles of being a racist. The worst part is that Lockland knew, or should’ve known, that Michael is not racist, but they chose to be cowardly instead of doing a reasonable, rational investigation.

“If they had acted reasonably, with due consideration for Michael’s rights and reputation, none of this would’ve happened to him. He is a decent, good man, and a good police officer. His career has been deeply damaged and threatened, and perhaps ruined, because Lockland refused to do the right thing, and chose instead to act out of fear and cowardice.”