Deputy suspended for ‘suggestive’ Facebook posts

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MEMPHIS, Tenn. -- Another law enforcement officer is learning the hard way the perils of social media.

This past weekend the Shelby County Sheriff's Department suspended a detective with pay for sending suggestive social media messages to what he thought was a female.

"There is a very strict policy regarding social media," said Sheriff's Department Spokesperson Earle Farrell.

The Sheriff's Office wouldn't talk about the case against Detective Gary Beans, but the video on-line has plenty of suggestive and explicit language.

It turns out it wasn't a female the officer was chatting with, but a sting orchestrated by a man he arrested in 2009.

The man laid the bait.

The officer, caught on tape, seems to have picked it up.

Now the Sheriff's Department is investigating.

"People hold us to a higher level. They expect more from law enforcement. That's what we understand and adhere to," said Farrell.

It's one of several officer-involved cases in the last few weeks, from posts about water hosing protesters to sharing a picture of a black emoji running with a gun pointed at him.

U of M Journalism Professor Matthew Haught said balancing your right to speak with the rules of work is key especially on touchy topics.

"If they have employees saying those kinds of things, they have to say something. It looks like they're responsible, even if that employee is speaking on their own time. That employee is always an agent of their company," said Haught.

The Sheriff's Department's policy clearly stated when it comes to personal social media posts, all employees are prohibited from displaying department logos, posting anything distasteful or disrespectful and they are prohibited from posting anything while on duty.

"Most companies have a guideline statement for you to follow and that's your rule book. In general, I think don't say anything you wouldn't say to your mother," said Haught.

The Sheriff's Department is trying to determine if Detective Beans was sending those suggestive messages while he was on work time, which is prohibited.

We received a  copy of the Memphis Police Department's social media protocol.

It also said social media posts that could have an adverse affect on the department are strictly prohibited.

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