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Posting opinions on social media may have negative effects

Posted at 6:21 PM, Jun 03, 2020
and last updated 2020-06-03 19:21:39-04

OPELOUSAS — As protests continue across the nation, people are using social media to voice their opinions, but it's not always without consequences. In St. Landry parish, two deputies are no longer on the sheriff's force for their recent posts.

"One of these young men had a family, and you're taking away their livelihood, and I have to do what I have to do to keep civility in St. Landry Parish," Sheriff Bobby Guidroz told KATC on Wednesday.

Guidroz fired one deputy and another resigned following social media posts that were brought to the sheriff's attention. One is accused of sharing insensitive memes and the other of posting, "If burning down buildings makes sense to you, go burn down the projects where black on black crimes happen everyday."

"Sometimes we do and say things we totally regret, all of us have done that, not just these two guys. Maybe you, I, we have all done that, and that's what they did here."

Guidroz says both men regret the posts, but added that the posts will likely affect their future.

"If someone calls us for a reference, they'll see that this officer resigned in lieu of discipline," he explained.

He also warns those looking to start their career.

"They apply for a job, or a grant, federal aid, if this is somewhere in their past, it could definitely hurt them."

KATC then asked, "You're an employer, do you check out their social media pages?"

"Yes, we want to see how they think," Guidroz responded.

KATC also spoke with a professor from UL, who says it isn't just police officers that need to watch what they say online. Communications Law Professor William Davie says Louisiana is an employment at will state, meaning an employer can terminate you with or without reason.

"Frankly, if your employer is offended by what you say on social media, then you are more or less out of luck," Davie said.

Davie says he tells his students to consider several things before making a post.

"If it is absolutely necessary to post online, ask yourself, is it true? Is it fair to all concerned? And will it help build goodwill or relationships? That will pretty much help people with their filters as they go online," Davie said.

It's not just comments to your page that may get you in trouble. A Kaplan officer was recently fired after a comment he made on a Facebook video.

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