Richmond County deputies in trouble for MySpace pages

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November 14, 2006

Three Richmond County deputies accused of posting questionable material on the popular internet site MySpace. Now, deputies Philip Hambrick, Jason Izquierdo, and Colby Harrel could be in trouble with their bosses.

The sheriff's department says things like pictures showing the deputies holding their guns and advice on how to knock out gold teeth are bad representation of the department, and could get the deputies fired.

News 12 finds this kind of policy doesn't just apply to public figures. It could apply to any job.

Watch what you post...because like these deputies' pages, chances are it could become public.

That's something frequent internet chatter Darryl Gardner didn't realize.

"It's not right," he said. "You're violating my rights."

Actually, most information is the public's right once it goes online.

That's why the three sheriff's deputies could face trouble after the Metro Spirit's Cory Pein found questionable content on their MySpace pages.

That content includes pictures of a deputy with a county-owned weapon and a deputy next to a patrol car with the caption "look at my fellow gang members". It also includes a blog with posts saying things like "I didn't realize how easily gold teeth can be removed" and explaining how vodka and dial soap can get blood out of your uniform.

"Somebody who knows a bit about computers can find it pretty easily, and some of these were just laying out in plain view," Pein told News 12.

He says you can find almost anything if you know what to look for.

Even if you think you've removed information, it can still be easy to find. For example, MySpace says Deputy Hammond's page has been removed...but a Google search turns up the old page and all the information.

The same is true for the other deputies, who recently blocked their pages.

Defense attorney Jason Troiano says that legally, anyone can have access to anything you've ever posted, because it's information you've published in the public domain.

"Once you put it out there, a company, an employer, can use it against you," he says.

That's why everyone--deputies, public officials, and frequent bloggers like Darryl--should post with caution...because anyone, anytime, could read what you write.

This isn't the first time the Richmond County Sheriff's Office has dealt with MySpace issues. They sent a memo out back in July warning deputies about watching what they post.

The three deputies will appear before a panel of their peers Thursday morning.