The source of this letter asked for anonymity due to their fears of being retaliated against similar to Chad Bianco. It is clear in the rank and file that unless you are on bended knee in front of the Sheriff, you are wearing a target.
Over the past two-decades social media has changed the way we communicate with one another. The various communication platforms, such as Twitter, Instagram and Facebook continue to be used not only by citizens, but law enforcement agencies throughout the nation, including the Sheriff’s Department. Social media can have both a positive and negative influence on one’s career. Specifically, Facebook affords a way for people to communicate with friends, co-workers and family. Facebook is used by our Department to inform the communities we serve on crime prevention programs, significant arrests and community events.
Caution, the Sheriff Department has made it clear there should be no nexus on an employee’s personal Facebook account and the Department. A profile photograph of you in uniform or listing the Sheriff’s Department as your employer creates that nexus. Thus, from Administration’s perspective any perceived negative, or criticizing comment posted on your personal Facebook account could be viewed as a violation of General Orders. Therefore, you could be subject to a personnel investigation and potentially disciplined.
The Department is without a doubt monitoring many of our employees Facebook accounts for such a nexus. I arrived at this conclusion based on a number of co-workers describing how a supervisor admonished them about a criticizing post or an election related comment. Also, sergeants, lieutenants and the captain warned us to delete any reference to being employed by the Department on Facebook at numerous briefings.
Based on comments by peers and their counseling experience, it my opinion that Department resources are being inappropriately used to monitor personal Facebook accounts with to goal of identifying employees who post criticizing comments about the Department, or expressed support for Lt. Chad Bianco.The reality is we are in an election cycle and I have opined the monitoring of personal Facebook accounts appears to be for the sole purpose of identifying Lt. Chad Bianco supporters and intimidating them. If you were on the Department four years ago, then you might recall the perceived retaliation after the election cycle, such as unwanted transfers and hopefully understand what I am talking about.
To avoid a negative experience for exercising your right to free speech afforded under the Constitution of the United States, remove any nexus identifying your employer. Replace your photograph with one where you are not wearing a uniform. List your occupation as, “Law Enforcement,” “Peace Officer” or “Public Servant.” Do not use Riverside County on any posts. Set your settings to private to allow only family and friends to read your honest posts without fear of retaliation. Do not post comments from a county computer or while on-duty. Take the necessary steps to protect yourself, protect your rights and don’t be subject to any form of intimidation.
Chad Bianco challenged Stan Sniff in 2014 and has been on the receiving end of retaliation ever since. Others that supported Bianco then have also had their careers affected. There is more to this series coming. If you have been retaliated against by this Sheriff, we want to hear from you. Comments are moderated and do not display publicly – let us know what happened to you, you can remain anonymous and we will delete the comment rather than display it. We are also on Facebook and you can message us there as well.