County employee policy committee meets; discusses social media posting, bereavement pay, and more

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The Independence County employee policy committee met Tuesday night and discussed a range of topics dealing from social media posting to bereavement time and pay.

At last week’s meeting of the county law enforcement committee, County Judge Robert Griffin addressed concerns about the sheriff’s department’s social media posts, specifically a recent post of a female suspect on her knees in handcuffs during an arrest.

Last night, Stephens told employee policy committee members he has taken an online class regarding the legality of posting certain info and photos on social media. The class was taught by an attorney specializing in social media lawsuits, the sheriff said.

“As long as it’s true and accurate and it’s not false information, we’re fine,” said Stephens. “We’re trying to keep the public aware of what we’re doing, of what’s going on, and let them know this stuff happens, and sometimes, it’s in their own neighborhood.”

The committee also looked at the policy of coworkers dating, specifically possibly changing the verbiage of the current policy to state relationships that fall under the current anti-nepotism policy are not encouraged.

In other business, Stephens told members his department is applying for a grant through the Arkansas Highway Safety Office for deputies to work during a statewide law enforcement campaign, such as the Click It or Ticket or Child Safety Seat campaigns.

In order to do this, there has to be a county policy noting that the county will pay overtime for deputies to work. The department will then submit the hours to the Highway Safety Office for reimbursing. Stephens told committee members he feels confident the current policy will work. He said he may not get the grant application submitted and approved by the last campaign of the year, but he is focused on ensuring approval is obtained for 2020.

The final item discussed was a question regarding the county’s bereavement time policy. It was noted an employee had to use other paid time off and not bereavement pay when the employee took off for the death of their significant other’s mother. However, when a coworker’s in-law passed, they were able to use bereavement time to take time off.

It was questioned by the unmarried employee as to why they were not allowed to use allocated bereavement time, and it was explained that it was due to not being married to the person whose parent had passed. It was noted the policy verbiage may be revised in the near future for purposes of clarity.

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