Town of Biscoe officials released a statement stating, “The photos published by the Montgomery Herald of Biscoe Town Police Officers were published without context and are older photos of the officers off duty taken from the social media accounts of friends or family, not the officers’ own accounts. That being said, we always want employees to represent Biscoe in the best light. Officers are being advised to be more aware of their behavior while off duty but still in uniform. In addition, the town’s Electronic Communication and Equipment Policy, which was implemented in December, is reviewed regularly with employees, as recently as this past week.”
The photos were taken from the TikTok accounts of Carmen Jenkins and DJ Capel. The photo of Lewellan was from Feb. 21, this year, just four weeks ago. The photo of Jenkins was from her own account and was from Feb. 5 of this year. The photo of Capel was from August 2020.
The town adopted a social media policy in 2016 which states regarding employees private social media accounts;
PERSONAL SOCIAL MEDIA ACCOUNTS
As with other forms of public communication, such as telephone and email, employees who engage in using social media during work hours are personally responsible for the content they publish. The creation of Town social media platforms must be approved by the Town Manager.
· Usage of personal media during work hours for personal communication or personal reasons should be brief. Employees shall not access inappropriate website or engage in detrimental personal conduct.
· Engagement on any social media platform on work time should be limited and performed in adherence with the employee’s direct scope of work and responsibilities, with the best interest of the Town paramount in their postings.
· Employees must conduct themselves in a professional and positive tone.
· Departments that use social media are responsible for complying with applicable federal, state and Town laws, regulations and policies. This includes adherence to established laws and policies regarding copyright, records retention, NC Public Records Law and other protected information such as Personal Identifiable Information (PII). Confidential information such as HIPAA protected content will remain confidential.
· A public blog is not the place to communicate internal Town policies for employees or to air disputes or grievances.
· These guidelines may continually evolve as new technologies and social networking tools emerge. The Town Manager or Authorized Personnel will review social media site usage and provide policy recommendations on a continuing basis.
Unacceptable uses: Accessing, messaging or printing sensitive materials including, but not limited to, illegal activities, gambling, sexually explicit materials, weapons, drugs, violence or materials that include inappropriate language, profanity, obscenity, racial, ethnic or discriminatory comments, defamatory statements or otherwise inappropriate content (to include statements such as partisan political positions, religious positions and other statements that may subject the Town, its mission, or its employees to be viewed in a light that is not in the best interest of Town of Biscoe) is strictly prohibited.
Failure to Comply: Each department is responsible for ensuring compliance with this directive. Failure to adhere to these requirements may result in the removal of department pages or information from social media outlets. Employees may lose the privilege to use their electronic devices and/or telecommunication equipment and may result in discipline, up to and including termination of employment.
Montgomery Herald has reached out to each board member and the mayor for a comment on the videos, which the Herald described, but has not uploaded, for comment but has received no response.