Tim Burrows - Author

Welcome to my page here on LawEnforcement.Social. I'm honored to share my thoughts and knowledge with you in regards to social media and law enforcement.

Does The 1st Amendment Cover This?

Does The 1st Amendment Cover This?

When you’re a police officer, you are held to a higher standard. There is no arguing that. If you think it’s unfair, then you should probably find another line of work.  If you believe you should be allowed to say whatever you want, then you should really find an outlet other than social media to voice your opinion.

An officer in Marlin Texas decided to use his Facebook account to post some questionable comments. His first volley wasn’t what I would really get all worked up over. Framed in the right way, he might have actually been doing a bit of a public service message.

They were comments about his disdain of shopping for groceries on the first day of the month about food stamps,  tattoos, “bling,” along with the laziness of some shoppers. You get the picture. It was his second thought to keyboard sans filter that was the reckless and moronic part.

“I promise, if I ever snap and go on a killing spree, it will be in a supermarket on the first.”

I’m sorry officer, could you repeat that? Oh, never mind…you don’t need to. You put it on Facebook! You uttered the thought into text and published yourself right into suspension…and well deserved! Here is a thought from every lawyer going right now.

“I promise if you ever snap and go on a killing spree un a supermarket on the first I want to represent all the families in the lawsuits and be present for your execution for premeditated murder.”

The First Amendment affords a great deal of right, but with all rights there is an equal amount of responsibility. Some practitioners of social media will even applaud a disclaimer that look to separate you from your employer in cases of stupidity errors in judgement but they satisfy a legal team to say, “He acted in his own accord.”

But even those lawyers will admit in a lawsuit the employer will still be held to account for their members published thoughts if those thoughts are egregious enough especially if those thoughts come to fruition.

The Best Social Media Policy on Self Risk Management

  1. Don’t do, say or type anything stupid.
  2. If you rely on privacy settings for your protection you are stupid.
  3. If you think, “I shouldn’t”… you shouldn’t.
  4. When in doubt consider, “What is the worst thing that could happen.” then multiply.
  5. Always be guided by, “What could possibly go wrong?”

The 1st will only protect you so far…be it fair or not. We don’t stand for hate speech to be protected, maybe it’s time to consider stupid speech to be not protected as well.

 

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Thursday, July 20 ,2017

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