APD employee, city social media specialist suspended after Facebook comments

The city of Asheville has placed Lynn Fraser, a forensic technician employed by the Asheville Police Department, and Melissa Williams, the city’s social media specialist, on “non disciplinary paid investigative suspension.” On Facebook, Fraser called Occupy Asheville protesters emerged yesterday, and Williams added a “LMAO” (“laughing my ass off”) comment.

In the Facebook comments, Fraser also remarked that Occupy Asheville was a group that needed “a hug … around the neck… with a rope.” After responding to Fraser’s “dirtasses” remark with “LMAO,” Williams asked Fraser to count her blessings.

Late yesterday, APD Interim Chief Wade Wood, in an emailed statement, said the department took the comments “very seriously and [was] looking into the matter.” Williams offered her apologies, saying her comments had intended to highlight the absurdity of the phrase and encourage Fraser not to lose a sense of perspective; Williams emphasized that her comments were not meant to indicate agreement with the characterization of the protesters.

Earlier today, WSPA quoted Wood as saying Fraser was on paid leave. Late this afternoon, a city spokesperson confirmed both employees were suspended, with pay, while the incident is investigated.

Fraser was among APD personnel filming a Nov. 4 rally involving Occupy Asheville participants.

The city’s Internet usage policy, governing action by all staff, declares, “The city employee shall make no intentional use of Internet services in an illegal, malicious, or obscene manner, included but not limited to, using the services to access materials such as those advocating hate, pornography or violence when not directly related to official City business. All use of the Internet should be sensitive to the perceptions of the other City employees and the public.”

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15 thoughts on “APD employee, city social media specialist suspended after Facebook comments

  1. mat catastrophe

    They weren’t filming. They weren’t using film. Seriously. It’s way past time people stopped using “filming” every time someone turns on a camcorder.

  2. D. Dial

    How ironic is it that two “social media specialists” (Williams & Missions former chief marketing spokesperson), don’t seem to “get” it?

    • Barry Summers

      “Oh, ho, ho, irony! Oh, no, no, we don’t get that here. See, uh, people ski topless here while smoking dope, so irony’s not really a, a high priority. We haven’t had any irony here since about, uh, ’83, when I was the only practitioner of it. And I stopped because I was tired of being stared at.”

      http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Hwxybr3MBOY

  3. bill smith

    Seriously, tho. Is this really that big of a deal? Yes, yes. A dirty word. At least she gets a paid vacation!

    • The Trolls Troll

      yep. disgusting, isn’t it? what exactly does “non-disciplinary paid investigation” mean? How is it non-disciplinary? Because they’re getting paid? Lame.

    • Aristarch

      The word “rewarded’ comes to mind. An APD advocates murdering people for exercising their 1st amendment rights and gets some paid time off. Apparently that’s what it means when the Police Chief takes something “very seriously”.

  4. Do you know for a fact that the two employees used City property? The above internet usage policy reads similar to what most employers have in place for workplace internet usage. I thought she said something in her post about being glad to be off work? Does the above policy apply to her at-home personal use of the internet?

    And while certainly not very smart to identify herself as a City employee, if Fraser used her own private facebook page to post such a comment, who really cares that a forensic technician let off some steam? Williams’ comments are also private, but as a so-called ‘social media specialist,’ she ought to know better. But still, it’s her personal thoughts. Just a reminder in this day of citizen journalism, you truly have to watch what you say. Weird. In a time where we’re supposed to enjoy our full freedom of speech, we still have to beware of what we say. You never know who is watching and waiting to take it out of context.

    What about doing a real news story? Like how come a ‘small city’ with a population of 80,000 and a place that invites the world to come to world-class festivities, there are only three dispatchers on a normal shift?

  5. chris @webmindset

    I’m unclear as to whether or not she made the comment from her work computer or… Worse… In her official capacity.

  6. Barry Summers

    The more I think about it, the worse it feels. A police employee joking in public about lynching innocent people in the street?

    If she was twelve, this would get her suspended from school and sent to a psychiatrist.

    Melissa Williams issued a credible explanation and apology, but Ms. Fraser should be fired.

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