The Sterlington Police Department implemented a social media policy on May 9.
"We adopted a local agency's policy and procedures that they spent a lot of time and effort into getting in place," Sterlington Police Chief Barry Bonner said. "We basically just adopted that policy and put it in place."
An overview of the newly implemented policy states as follows: "Professionalism, ethics and integrity are of paramount importance in the law enforcement community. To achieve and maintain the public's highest level of respect, we must place reasonable restrictions on our conduct and appearance, and hold to these standards of conduct whether on or off duty. An employee's actions must never bring the department into disrepute, nor should conduct be detrimental to its efficient operation. Employees of the Sterlington Police Department have a right to have personal web pages or sites. When reference is made to or about the Sterlington Police Department, a review of that reference is needed to ensure that such reference does not compromise department integrity, and undercut the public confidence in the agency.
The purpose of this directive is to establish departmental policy concerning personal web pages or internet sites when referencing the Sterlington Police Department, to ensure employees use appropriate discretion in the use of references to the Sterlington Police Department so as to not discredit or disrespect the department. It is also necessary to ensure the release, either directly or indirectly, of information concerning crimes, accidents or violations of ordinances or statutes to persons outside the department is not disseminated, and all employees treat as confidential the official business of the department."
Bonner said the Sterlington Police Department uses all social media, including Facebook and Snapchat.
"We use every tool available to us – social media, phone calls," he said. "Any tool that is available to us, we use for the betterment of the community to make it a safer place to live."
Prior to the social media policy being implemented, Bonner said the Sterlington Police Department had been using social media for a while.
"When I'm reading this policy and I go back in my mind to all the things that we've done and shared, there's never been anything that we've done that's been negative or that would violate the policy," he said. "Everything was done, is done and will continue to be done the same exact way. The only difference now is that we have policy and procedure, which wasn't being violated anyway, but we do have it in place now."