ORANGE COUNTY, FL – The Orange County Sheriff’s Office has reportedly begun an internal investigation into a 29-year-old deputy whose videos on TikTok have been seemingly uploaded to the platform while she was on-duty, adorning the agency’s uniform and possibly inside of a patrol vehicle.
— Mike DeForest (@DeForestNews6) January 26, 2021
While the sheriff’s office has not received any complaints about the content uploaded, there apparently are concerns about the general optics of a uniformed deputy uploading videos to social media while presumably on-duty.
Deputy Shelby Abramson joined the Orange County Sheriff’s Office back in November of 2019 and began uploading videos to TikTok roughly a few months after she was hired.
The OCSO became aware to Deputy Abramson’s social media activity after a fellow deputy within her chain of command had come across some of these videos.
From what the OCSO says of the videos reviewed so far, is that they are generally innocuous in nature.
Deputy Abramson, who works as a school resource officer, has apparently uploaded some videos of herself dancing along and lip syncing to various popular songs, some of which do have explicit lyrics, but nothing out of the norm of modern pop music.
Some of these other videos reportedly uploaded by the deputy encouraged her online following to support law enforcement and offers somewhat of a look inside the life of a sheriff’s deputy.
Another one of these videos apparently hosted Deputy Abramson showing off some of the issued equipment deputies are allotted, pointing out how her belt hosts a Taser and a single firearm.
Also, among some of the other videos uploaded by the deputy, Deputy Abramson appears to be standing in front or sitting inside of what appears to be her patrol vehicle.
A large component of this investigation, according to Sheriff John Mina, is that officials are just trying to get an understanding of where and when these videos were recorded.
The OCSO does host policy that outlines how the agency’s official social media channels should be managed, while also providing guidelines on how OCSO employees should manage their personal social media accounts.
Currently, Deputy Abramson has close to 64,000 followers on her TikTok; nearly the same amount of people that follow the official OCSO Twitter account and almost four times as many people that follow Sheriff Mina directly on Twitter.
As many have seen over the years, especially with the case of former Port of Seattle Police Officer Greg Anderson, utilizing social media while in uniform can be extremely dicey territory.
As such, the OCSO cautions their employees that speech which would normally fall under the First Amendment could serve as a basis for disciplinary action if the speech uploaded to social media is pursuant to their official duties and responsibilities and detrimental to the agency.
Florida Highway Patrol Trooper Steve Montiero notes that law enforcement utilizing social media does have its positive aspects. Typically with many law enforcement officers using platforms to humanize themselves apart from the positions they hold. He stated:
“They want people to see, ‘Hey, look, I’m your neighbor. I listen to the same music as you.”
But even Trooper Montiero knows that there are caveats with law enforcement personnel uploading to social media while appearing to be on duty, i.e., when they are adorning official uniforms or inside of issued vehicles while posting online.
He says that some who see the videos online may be wondering whether the officers could be doing something more productive while on the taxpayers’ dime:
“Should (the officers) be responding to calls? Are they missing calls because of this? Do I think any of that is happening? Probably not. But it’s all about perception.”
The internal investigation into Deputy Abramson’s social media activity is ongoing, but she is reportedly still on the job while the matter is being investigated.
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As mentioned earlier, Port of Seattle Police Officer Greg Anderson was fired from the department after posting a viral video to Instagram where he was critical of fellow police officers enforcing pandemic-related mandates while in uniform.
We at Law Enforcement Today shared the news of the then-broiling controversy when there were talks of him being let go in May of 2020.
This officer admonished cops enforcing ‘tyrannical’ orders. It might get him fired. We’ll gladly hire him.
May 13, 2020
Seattle, Washington – Port of Seattle Police Officer Greg Anderson managed to ruffle more than a few feathers after a video he posted online showcased his thoughts on the state of policing during COVID-19.
Namely, he noted that what he described as “tyrannical” government orders didn’t rest well with his views on how America was crafted as a country.
Well, now Officer Anderson has found himself suspended from the force due to his expressed views, and he’s realistically facing termination for expressing his opinions based upon some rather flaky technicalities.
The video responsible for all the hubbub featured Officer Anderson, inside of his police cruiser in uniform, stating the following:
“I’m seeing people arrested or cited for going to church, traveling on the roadways, for going surfing, opening their business, going to the park with their families or doing nails out of their own house, using their own house as their place of business and having undercover agents go there and arrest them and charge them with what? With a crime?”
Officer Anderson’s frustrations were vented, in no uncertain terms, during the confessional-styled video:
“I don’t know what crime people are committing by doing nails in their own house. We are seeing this more and more and more, and we need to start looking at ourselves as officers and thinking is what I am doing right?
I want to remind you regardless of where you stand on the coronavirus, we don’t have the authority to do those things.”
The officer who filmed this viral video has been reportedly placed on administrative leave pending investigation.
He has been told it will "result in termination due to it being an insubordination charge for refusing to take down the video."
Is this what America now stands for? pic.twitter.com/6zh1DaHHj2
— PragerU (@prageru) May 11, 2020
It’s blatantly obvious that Officer Anderson is a man who serves the Constitution, before he serves anything else.
He explained that no matter who gives the order, police officer’s first bar to determine legality is always the Constitution:
“Just because a mayor or a governor tells you otherwise. I don’t care if it’s your sergeant or chief of police.
We don’t get to violate someone’s constitutional rights because someone in our chain of command tells us otherwise. It’s not how this country works.”
Not only were his frustrations deriving from the fact that he saw his fellow citizens being deprived of their rights, but also that enforcing these orders will inevitably make being a police officer all the more dangerous:
“These officers who have been going out here and enforcing these tyrannical orders. They’re putting my job and my safety at risk because you’re widening the gap between public trust and law enforcement officers.”
It was but a tight-knit group of friends and colleagues that were hip to the video when Officer Anderson posted it online, but then something unexpected happened.
It blew up online – big time. Hundreds of thousands of views began pouring in, up to the point where the brass caught wind.
And then, they got involved.
After the video began going viral, Officer Anderson was hit with an ultimatum by officials within the department. He could either take the video down, or face the consequences. Being a man of free speech, Officer Anderson declined and said that the video will remain online.
Then, he found himself suspended with a possible termination headed his way.
Chief Rod Covey anticipated some blowback after placing the officer on leave, and he placed a deep-winded statement online the Port of Seattle Police Departments website. According to Chief Covey, he says that the decision was based upon Officer Anderson expressing his opinions while in uniform:
“A police officer wearing one of our uniforms, his right to speech has limitations on which he has been well-trained and that he has understood since joining the policing profession.”
While the chief did proclaim that he has immense respect for Officer Anderson, he reiterated that the police does not have the right to deliver any sort of opinion while doing so in their professional attire or among their issued equipment:
“[Officer Anderson] has always had the ability to express his opinions on what is going on in the country like all other Americans.
However, he is not allowed to do so while on duty, wearing our uniform, wearing our badge and while driving our patrol car.”
Chief Rod Covey, so very sad to see that you turned off public comment on the department web site related to your treatment of officer Greg Anderson – truly a cowardly act.
— Joe Nobody 77 (@SECRET_CISO) May 12, 2020
Now, some might chime in and say that “well, the officer knew, or should have known, the rules about that.”
Imagine if you would, any other profession where said professional couldn’t deliver an opinion relevant to their professional endeavors while donning their work attire or claiming their place of employment.
That would be like telling medical doctors they couldn’t deliver a published or spoken medical opinion while wearing their issued work attire and broadcasting they work for whatever hospital.
Or asking a fast food employee about which of the menu items they prefer while they’re standing behind the register.
While some could proclaim that Officer Anderson was promoting some sort of anarchy or calling to break the law, he actually didn’t do any of the ilk.
He simply pointed out that the enforcement of unconstitutional laws (or executive orders in this case) is, by definition, unconstitutional. It’s a relevant opinion to his profession since it stems from law enforcement.
No matter where one sits on the fence about the context of Officer Anderson’s perspective on the matter, it’s painfully obvious that he’s not being admonished for simply being in his squad car while dropping his perspective on social media.
There are numerous videos online where officers do similar things, and you don’t hear about reprimands going out because of those other instances.
Officer Anderson currently has a GoFundMe page up right now that was established by his wife’s friend, Jessica McLaughlin, to assist with his legal battle in this effort.
Let's show this great patriot that we the people support him. Greg Anderson is a veteran and police officer who was fired for making a video about our rights, our Constitution, and standing by your oath. God bless him.
— Shara Edminister (@EdministerShara) May 12, 2020
The online fundraiser states the following about the matter:
“The Port of Seattle Police is in the process of termination as the video was deemed a violation of policy. I am attempting to raise funds for them as they are going to seek legal representation and to help cover any costs that the unforeseen future brings during this drastic change in their lives.”
Policy violation or not, Officer Anderson’s heart was in the right place.
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