York County Sheriff Kevin Tolson shared a controversial opinion Sunday evening on his office's official Facebook page.
In the post, Tolson explains his view on kneeling during the national anthem. As of 2 p.m. Monday, the post had been shared nearly 900 times and garnered more than 2,000 comments.
"For those of you who want to kneel or bow for the flag during the anthem, just know that you are kneeling or bowing for our God who STANDS for peace, unity and love for all - regardless of race, gender or nationality," part of Tolson's post read.
Responses to the post were mixed, some supported the sheriff's view and others condemned the use of a public office's social media being used to share personal viewpoints.
The same post was also posted on Tolson's personal Facebook page about 40 minutes prior to the post on the official York County Sheriff's Office page.
Just before 2 p.m. Monday, a post was published from the sheriff's office page stating Tolson had been asked for his feelings on the issue of kneeling during the national anthem multiple times.
"Sheriff Tolson understands that not everyone agrees with his opinions about this issue. The ability to listen to and respect a different opinion is one of the founding principles of our country and Sheriff Tolson hopes speaking freely will help to continue beneficial conversation and ultimately bring peace and unity to our society."
The statement also said Tolson is not required to abide by the social media policies of the York County government because he is an elected official, despite the Facebook page linking to the county's Social Media Disclaimer and Comment Policy.
Tolson, a Republican, was elected in 2016 and is running unopposed in the November election. Nearly all of the nation’s 3,100 county sheriffs are elected, their autonomy enshrined in many state constitutions, as is the case in South Carolina.
In theory, sheriffs have a powerful check — voters. But in practical terms, “once a sheriff is elected, he is insulated in all but the most extreme circumstances,” James Tomberlin wrote in the Virginia Law Review.
The York County Sheriff's Office did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Tony Bartelme contributed to this report.