City policy: No personal calls, TV while on the job

Published 9:54 am Thursday, July 13, 2017

City employees will no longer be able to make personal calls or watch television while on the job following two new policies approved Monday by the Board of Mayor and Aldermen.

The lone exceptions are the police and fire departments, which will be allowed to continue using the televisions.

North Ward Alderman Michael Mayfield, who introduced the policies, said they are in response to citizen complaints about employees using their personal cell phones on the job, and walking into a city office and finding someone watching TV.

“It’s mostly (personal) cell phone use by employees during work time, driving while on the phone, texting, posting on Facebook,” he said. “It’s across the board; it’s not just one department or individual. It’s gotten out of hand. We’ve had all kinds of complaints. It ain’t just the employees; it’s all of us.”

He said employees have been warned not to use their cell phones unless they are on a break or at lunch.

“Unless it’s official business, they should not be on a cell phone period, while on city time, and we will be firm about that. The board as a whole feels it has gotten out of control and we’re trying to rein this in.”

According to the policy, employees can only use their phones for personal use during 15-minute breaks or lunch breaks. City-issued cell phones, according to the policy, will be closely monitored.

Employees caught violating the policy will receive a written warning on the first offense. A second offense will result in a three-day suspension, while a third offense is a five-day suspension. A fourth offense results in termination.

Under the television policy, all city-owned televisions must be turned into the purchasing department, and personal sets must be taken home. Television screens used as computer monitors and not connected to cable are exempt from the policy.

“People don’t like it when they walk into a public office and there’s a TV (on) there,” he said.

“We have about 3 or 4 people that actually continue to have TVs because they depend on them, like the police department shows videos because of investigations,” he said. “The fire departments are exempt because they are one 24-hour status. They are the only ones exempt.”

Mayfield, South Ward Alderman Alex Monsour and Mayor George Flaggs Jr. have TVs in their office. Mayfield said he removed the TV in his front office and disconnected the one in his office.

“I believe you lead from the front, not from behind,” he said.

Monsour said his set is used for PowerPoint and video presentations from people wanting to do business with the city.

“But if it creates a problem, I’ll remove it in a heartbeat,” he said.

“We’ve got to rein all these things in,” Mayfield said, adding, “We’re working to correct several problems.”

About John Surratt

John Surratt is a graduate of Louisiana State University with a degree in general studies. He has worked as an editor, reporter and photographer for newspapers in Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama. He has been a member of The Vicksburg Post staff since 2011 and covers city government. He and his wife attend St. Paul Catholic Church and he is a member of the Port City Kiwanis Club.

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