HPD to Increase Use of Social Media

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Beginning Jan. 2, the Hermiston Police Department will increase its use of social media to keep the public informed of the department's activities. (Photo: File)

Effective Jan. 2, 2018, citizens who utilize Facebook and follow activity on the Hermiston Police Department page, will begin to see more information posted. As a slow roll out, HPD has been using social media, much like other police departments, in a more frequent manner over the last several months.

For the last 12 years, Jason Edmiston, first as lieutenant and now as the chief, has been the single source public information officer for the police department. Edmiston said that will continue for all matters not posted on the HPD social media page unless Edmiston is the source of the information or it is a significant major crime.

After Jan. 2, HPD’s three on-call supervisors – Captain Scott Clark, Captain Travis Eynon and Lieutenant Randy Studebaker – will be responsible for one social media post per day for the particular week they are on-call. Edmiston said citizens should see at least one post per day Monday through Friday from the police department.

Edmiston said posts may consist of weather advisories, crime updates to include arrests, crime prevention tips, community happenings, and more.

“Inasmuch as it can sometimes be fun to put out information that may make a person’s jaw drop, it is not the intent of this agency to ever embarrass anyone or engage in mean-spirited drama,” he said.

Edmiston said the increased use of social media is something the department has been talking about for several months.

“We will respect constitutional rights and try to ensure we honor our criminal justice system where a person is innocent until proven guilty by using words such as ‘alleged’ or ‘suspected,’ but our goal will be to remain factual,” the chief said. “We will honor the First Amendment which gives a citizen the right to agree with something we have posted or disagree. We will likely not engage in discussions further than the original post unless the engagement is to clarify or assist.

Edmiston gave a recent example in which a HPD post about the female who is suspected to committed a crime at two local businesses. He said the intent was not put out to make fun of her or her situation, but was put out to warn other businesses.

“We did receive a message from a concerned citizen who did not like some of the comments that were being made by others about the female,” Edmiston said. “There is case law already on the books that limits police departments and other public entities from picking and choosing who has the ability to comment on their site and how they choose to comment. We will honor that case law and hope the majority of comments will remain positive.”