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All Police In Washington Told To Consent To Show Their Private Social Media Or Lose Jobs

Olympia, WA – The Washington State Criminal Justice Training Commission (CJTC) has issued a declaration notifying law enforcement officers they could lose their jobs unless they consent to review of all aspects of their social media accounts – to include direct messages.

The online training session is a mandatory component of police certification that all law enforcement officers in the state must complete by Oct. 31, KTTH reported.

At the end of the training, a declaration screen pops up notifying the officer that he or she is required to “consent to, and agree to facilitate,” a review of any of the officer’s social media accounts “immediately upon a request by a representative” of the CJTC.

“I understand that failure to facilitate such a review when requested may result in a decertification action,” the signoff page reads.

Law enforcement agencies and police unions in Washington state are now scrambling for clarification regarding the declaration, which seems to be tied to a recent law change passed by the state’s Democrat-led Senate, KTTH reported.

“When peace officers were mandated to be certified in 2001 and corrections by July 1, 2021, they were required to provide consent to their employee records if there was misconduct that could lead to revocation. In ES22B 5051, the consent now includes social media accounts,” the CJTC said in an email to law enforcement agencies.

Law enforcement agencies originally believed the social media clause would only apply to new hires – a practice they also objected to, KTTH reported.

But according to the CJTC, years of service don’t matter, and any officers who refuse to give the commission free reign over all their social media accounts could lose their police certifications.

CJTC Executive Director Monica Alexander said the requirement “applies to all certified peace officers in WA state,” KTTH reported.

Alexander noted the social media reviews would only apply in matters of decertification or certification.

At least two large police unions – the Seattle Police Officers Guild and the King County Police Officers Guild – have advised officers to hold off on taking the training or signing the declaration while they look into the legalities of the matter, KTTH reported.

The Washington Association of Sheriffs and Police Chiefs said it is also reviewing the declaration and law requirements.

“It’s an extreme overreach. For the state to say they have the right to go into a personal social media account? It’s such an overreach,” Chelan County Sheriff Brian Burnett told KTTH. “Everything is taking away local control in this legislation. They’re not allowing you to police and train your staff. It’s all about the state taking over this drastic control, and through that, you have this overreach in this new wording in the legislation.”

Written by
Holly Matkin

Holly is a former probation and parole officer who is married to a sheriff’s deputy. She is a regular contributor to Signature Montana magazine, and has written feature articles for Distinctly Montana magazine.

View all articles
Written by Holly Matkin

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