Ohio troopers’ union attorney slams new Web-use rules

Thursday, September 3, 2009

COLUMBUS, Ohio — A union lawyer plans to challenge new restrictions on the use of personal and social networking Web sites by Ohio State Highway Patrol officers.

Under the policy adopted on July 28, if troopers want to mention their jobs on those sites or post pictures of themselves in uniform, superiors must first have a look.

The Columbus Dispatch reported that the “policy acknowledges that employees have a right to personal Web sites, but it says that references to the patrol must be previewed to ensure they do not cause a loss of public confidence in or respect for the agency.”

Ohio State Troopers Association attorney Herschel Sigall calls the rules “stupid” and says they violate free speech.

Patrol spokesman Lt. Tony Bradshaw said on Aug. 31 that the policy would be reviewed. A lawyer for the Ohio Department of Public Safety said the policy ought to be suspended in the meantime.

The rules were enacted after an internal investigation concluded a trooper had posted sexually suggestive photos of herself on her MySpace page and had identified herself as an officer.

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