The Buda City Council unanimously approved updates to the Buda Police Department’s policy on social media use earlier this month.
The move was made to better reflect the position of the department on social media postings within the department’s official social media accounts.
Buda Police Chief Bo Kidd said earlier this month the department already has measures in place for governing individual social media accounts for officers. The new guidelines establish the acceptable use of the department’s social media accounts.
“The old policy just addressed personal use. At the time we (the department) didn’t have any social media accounts,” Kidd said. “Now that we as a department are using these platforms I realized we needed to add some additional language and direction on its use.”
The new policy additions allow Buda Police to use social media to assist in investigations. However, officials cautioned personnel when posting anything on the department’s accounts.
According to a new addendum in the policy, “all official City posts, opinions, or content must be coordinated through and approved by the City Manager or Mayor.”
Kidd said Buda Police officers would have to adhere to the new guidelines on and off duty.
He added Buda Police staff are not permitted to use their personal social media accounts while on duty for any reason unless specified directly to do so by a supervisor.
An existing guideline for officers that was given more definition was discouraging officers from posting what department they work for on their personal social media accounts, in order to promote safety.
The new policy also has a disclaimer that guarantees “neither the authenticity, accuracy, appropriateness, or security” of links posted on its social media account.
Supervisors in the department also have the power to randomly investigate postings of employees for the purposes of protecting the integrity of the department, according to the new policy.
In Kyle, Police Chief Jeff Barnett said he also encourages employees to refrain from posting any personal information regarding where they work to their personal social media accounts. He said the reason was to discourage retaliation toward them and their families.
However, if falsehoods are found on an employee’s social media account, he/she will be held responsible for the content.
Kidd was happy with the updates to the policy.
“There is some information we have that needs to be protected so we have procedures in place to vet what information is released to the public,” Kidd said.