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The Media, Facebook, and Law Enforcement

More on the media, well in this case social media and in particular Facebook. Two news articles this week about law enforcement and social media, both highlight misuse and abuse of position and office by either their inaction or very personal action in the name of a government agency.

First off there’s this article ‘Police Chief’s Facebook Letter Raises Eyebrows’

It reads, “Dear Twice-Convicted Sexual Predator, You are not a man. You are a male by chromosomes and DNA; however, you are not a man and you have no honor.”

He continues, “You are lucky. Consider yourself fortunate that this great country has “become refined” and that we are “too advanced” for a good old-fashioned public hanging…I would pull the lever myself and watch the bottom drop out. After that I would head home, have a big meal and sleep like a baby. Believe it.”

Brimfield Township (Ohio) Police Chief David Oliver uses the official police department Facebook page to spew toxic personal opinions. While I certainly don’t agree with his comments had they been posted on his personal page rather than the official page of a government agency I’d not even be commenting about it.

Oliver is entitled to his opinion but these comments and the underlying attitude from, and in the voice of a government leader is disturbing to say the least. Considering his leadership role I have no doubt that they indicate a systemic problem with the police department and his employees. One that may well indicate the widespread abuse of civil rights and the outright disregard for the rule of law.

Then this ‘When is an opinion an actual threat online?’

The Lonoke County Sheriff’s Department in AK posts pictures and notices of sex offender registration on it’s official Facebook page. Now either you agree with Sex Offender Registration laws or you don’t, but bottom line here is that posting this information is both legal and the responsibility of the sheriff’s office. But I’m not debating that here; what’s at issue is the disturbing comments, thinly veiled threats, and harassment of those posting in reply. You can view the official Facebook page here.

Chief Deputy White says, “They are discussing, they ought to go out and use them as target practice, and no one is specifically making a threat when you read these statements.”

White goes on in the article to say that they will be removing the offending comments and moderating the content. Twenty four hours later that has yet to happen.

While legally these comments may not be considered ‘threats’ in Arkansas their very nature and content is threatening, harassing, and intimidating. If you’d been the target of these comments I’m sure you would agree.

Nonetheless the Sheriff’s refusal to moderate and approve such comments before they are made public is in essence an approval of the comments and the threatening behavior; support by inaction. If the Sheriff was truly interested in protecting and serving all of the counties citizens he would have put a stop to this long ago.

As it is they have ruled the comments legal and have yet to moderate and/or delete them as promised in the article.



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