FACEBOOK Posts Have Stirred Some Discontent - What Right Does Police Officers Have To Express Their ThoughtsRickey Stokes
Posted by: RStokes
Date: Feb 18 2013 8:12 PM
DOTHAN: A Dothan Police Corporal has written several posts on her personal FACEBOOK pages concering the former California Police Officer who apparently went on a shooting spree in California.
The posts by RaeMonica Carney were posted on her personal FACEBOOK page on the world wide web. Those posts have stirred some law enforcement officers up for and against what Carney has written.
In review of discussion boards it seems divided on Carney's right to her personal freedom of speech on the issue. While Carney is a law enforcement officer of the City of Dothan, there is no indication that she was speaking as an official with the City of Dothan. In fact, the FACEBOOK page occupation reads "works at real estate". However in the writings Carney does mention the oaths taken as a law enforcement officer.
There are a lot of rumblings within the Dothan Police Department concerning the FACEBOOK posts.
While we have had no discussion with Dothan Police Chief Greg Benton or Dothan Police Major Steve Parrish concerning the FACEBOOK page, a recent Police Lieutenant with the Dothan Police Department wrote a personal letter from himself to a defeated Escambia County politician. That letter was written as an individual and not as any representative of the City of Dothan. The letter went through the United States Postal Service and the opinion of the officer was not placed on the world wide web for all to see. The letter was mailed to the defeated politicians Florida address.
The defeated Escambia County Florida politician was that of former Dothan Police Chief John Powell. The letter was written by Dothan Police Lt. Duane Herring. Herring was placed in a remodeled broom closet in the jail to work from 11 PM to 7 AM to compile crime statistics. After Powell left Dothan as Police Chief, Chief Benton returned the remodeled broom closet back to it's original design, a broom closet. Chief Benton assigned Herring to Commander of Vice and Intelligence Division.
Powell did not file a complaint with Dothan Police Internal Affairs Division over Herring's letter. Powell apparently had a telephone conversation with Dothan City Manager Mike West which was followed by a letter written to Dothan City Manager Mike West. Apparently the letter was forwarded to Chief Benton and an investigation was initiated against Lt. Herring.
The letter, which I have read both Herring's letter to Powell and Powell's letter to the City Manager, was in no way representing the City of Dothan. Herring's letter said basically he was glad that Powell lost his dream of being Sheriff of Escambia County Florida, that the information that was on some web site about Powell in Escambia County was supplied by Powell, and that information would follow Powell whereever he went, and he hoped he spent a lot of time for the crimes he was charged with.
Powell was indicted by an Escambia County Florida Grand Jury for campaign violations. Following his defeat for Sheriff the criminal charges were disposed of in a manner similiar to deferred prosecution.
However, Herring was punished by the City of Dothan for his personal private letter as an individual written and sent through the United States Postal Service. Herring, a more than 30 year Police Officer with the City of Dothan, was given a major offense violation. That major offense placed Herring on probation for a period of two years. Any violations of any city policy would result in immediate termination. Herring also was suspended for two days without pay for sending the private letter to a defeated Florida politician.
At this time we do not know if any letter has been sent to Dothan City Manager Mike West. We understood that official complaints were required to the Dothan Police Department to begin an investigation against an officer. In Herring's case all it took was a phone call to the City Manager followed up by a letter to the City Manager. No official written complaint to Internal Affairs.
That leaves some officers questioning administration about how much more of this are they going to take? That leaves some officers asking, do we have any rights to freedom of speech as a private citizen? In the precident established already in the Herring/Powell case, apparently NO...unless you are Freddie Len White!!!
NOTE: You might have to click on the 021313 Carney facebook and 0218113 Carney facebookl words to get to the actual writings. For some reason SCRIBD is taking a few to actually load the FACEBOOK posts