Deputy apologizes for threatening journalist over MySpace story

By: Lynnsey Gardner Email
By: Lynnsey Gardner Email

November 27, 2006

A Richmond County sheriff's deputy apologized today for a threat he made to a local journalist.

Deputy Jason Brown sent an anonymous email to the Metro Spirit after reading an article published about his coworkers.

The threatening email came hours after one Richmond County deputy was fired and two more suspended over questionable information published on their MySpace pages.

It was just another day on the job for journalist Corey Pein, but then it all changed.

"It's not the kind of thing you get every day," he said of the threat he received after writing an article about three Richmond County deputies' MySpace pages.

The threat reads, "Well thanks to your coworker's thoughtlessness my coworker was terminated."

"Let's just hope he doesn't get caught speeding or stepping out of line. We will be sure to show him how (expletive) life can really be."

So Pein went to a search engine for blogs and typed in a phrase from one of the emails...and up came Jason Brown's MySpace page.

"It's amazing what you can find," Pein said.

He and his boss, Tom Grant, took those findings straight to the sheriff.

"Police officers are expected to be held to a higher standard," Grant said. "They are supposed to be cool and hold their tempers in situations that would get the best of us. I was surprised this police officer would do something so foolish as to make a threat."

The blog has been deleted from Brown's MySpace account.

On Monday Deputy Brown surprised Pein yet again by hand-delivering a letter identifying himself and apologizing for his actions.

In the letter he says he was upset when his coworker was fired: "I acted prematurely, emotionally and out of place."

"We didn't ask him to do that, the sheriff's office didn't ask him to do that," Grant said. "I think it shows great character.

"From what I heard this is not an officer who has been in trouble before. I didn't expect terrible things to happen to him. An apology counts for a lot," said Pein.

In the letter Jason Brown also mentions he has received several letters of commendation during his four years at the sheriff's office, including a recommendation for officer of the year.

Sheriff Strength says he has no comment, since the matter will be heard before a discipline board on Thursday. We will all just have to wait and see if this apology is enough to help Brown keep his job.

There's a lesson here in being careful what you write online, especially in a blog.

The website investigators used to track down the deputy involved in making the threat is Technorati.com. It's basically a search engine for blogs.

If you type in "augusta georgia deputy" it will search for that phrase on thousands of websites, including MySpace.

So, if you know what you're looking for, you can type in a phrase and find who posted it and when all in a matter of seconds.

Think twice before you write it and post it.


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