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City to review social media policy following questionable Facebook posts

The Board of Mayor and Aldermen will look to amend the city’s social media policy after being made aware of Facebook posts published by Vicksburg Fire Chief Craig Danczyk and an unidentified black firefighter.

The posts by Danczyk and the firefighter were made through their personal Facebook pages, Mayor George Flaggs Jr. said. He said Danczyk’s post was “insensitive and disrespectful and distasteful to a lot of people.”

The post involved protecting his home and family and included the comment, “I got 40 round magazine and (2) ARs.” Flaggs said the post by the firefighter, who was not identified, made derogatory comments toward white people.

“We’re looking at all the posts and whether or not there was any violation of any constitutional provisions; whether or not it violated any of the city’s social media policy,” he said.

Flaggs said the board will discuss the policy in an executive session when it meets Wednesday and again at its June 15 meeting. “It is a personnel matter and we have to deal with it in that manner,” he said.

Flaggs did not disclose the contents of the other Facebook post in question.

In August 2018, the board approved social networking policies for city employees with specific policies for the fire and police departments.

Flaggs said based on opinions from outside attorneys, the board will look at the city’s social media policy.

“It is too broad and vague and it has to be more restrictive,” Flaggs said.

According to the city’s social network policy for the fire department, employees maintain their First Amendment rights, “But any speech or expression, even in a personal capacity causing disruption or that undermines the effectiveness and/or operation of the department is prohibited.

“Employees shall not engage in posting any material which reflects negativity on any other city employee or official, this department, or the fire and EMS professions, or which could compromise any emergency scene of an investigation.”

Under the subtitle of “procedures,” the policy lists 14 items for employees to follow while networking. According to the policy, failure to comply could result in disciplinary action, including termination.

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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