By BOB PALMER
Jimplecute News Editor
Marion County Sheriff David McKnight has made a written response to a Jimplecute Freedom of Information Act request where he accepted “full responsibility” for the “Elmer” Facebook post.
Some may have found the photo of the wild-looking homeless man presented as the county’s new animal control officer who offered, “if you want them caught, fed or skint, just flag me down,” humorous. Others said they thought it was inappropriate and offensive.
McKnight had previously indicated, as reported in our May 9 Jimp story, he would deny the FOIA request dated May 2 because the Facebook page was not an official government location.
“It’s attached to a private email,” McKnight said on May 2. “Anyone can take a picture of a sheriff’s car and create a Facebook page.”
Asked on May 2 whose email was linked to the page, McKnight admitted the email was his.
Previously, McKnight in media statements had asserted the Marion County Sheriff’s Office Facebook account may have been hacked.
“We use the page to go on and post weather updates and things of that nature,” McKnight said April 24. “We didn’t make this post, someone had to have hacked into the account somehow but I took it down.”
Burn bans being in effect or lifted for Marion County are routinely posted as well as job openings for the department and various public relations messages are also included in the posts.
According to Texas Penal Code 33.01 (Texas Computer Crimes Statute), “Knowingly accessing a computer, computer network or computer system without the consent of the owner” is a crime.
Asked on May 9 if he personally had made the “Elmer” post, McKnight replied, “What difference does it make. I said I accepted responsibility.”
The sheriff also added that he did not want to throw a member of his staff under the bus.
These are the questions posed by the Jimplecute and McKnight’s responses received Saturday, May 10 via a USPS letter postmarked Thursday, May 9:
1. Facebook postings to the Marion County Sheriff Department’s Facebook page from all computers in the MCSO department from 12:01 a.m. April 23 through 11:59 p.m. April 27.
“There was only one posting to the facebook page (sic), the one that you are referring to as “Elmer the Animal Control Officer.”
2. Names of the personnel authorized to post to the department Facebook page.
“David McKnight, Frank Cason”
3. Record of any contact with Facebook to determine the IP address of the computer used to post the Elmer the Animal Control Officer post to the department’s Facebook page.
“There has been no contact with facebook (sic) officials.”
4. The name of the person whose computer was used, if it has been determined.
5. The name of any individual who has admitted responsibility for this post
“As sheriff I take full responsibility to the referenced facebook (sic) page.”
6. Record of any disciplinary action against any member of the department for making that post, allowing that post or having knowledge of that post without taking action.
“No disciplinary action was taken against any department personnel.”
7. If an unauthorized person made the post, does that constitute a crime and is it being investigated?
“No incident reports were made and there was no criminal activity.”
8. New policies or procedures that have been adopted to prevent another unauthorized social media message from MCSO from being posted.
“The post was removed when deemed offensive by some. Steps were taken to prevent future occurrences.”
McKnight did not elaborate what specific steps were taken even though the FOIA requested “an opportunity to inspect or obtain copies of public records pertaining to applicable ‘new policies or procedures.’”
The Jimplecute is filing additional FOIA requests of county officials for further records regarding the Facebook post. Sheriff McKnight now requires FOIA requests for routine jail activity reports. Those requests, which now include weekly blotter reports and the front page of each incident report, are now filed with his office each week.
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