Petition Made to Stop Police From Posting Mugshots on Facebook | NECN
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Petition Made to Stop Police From Posting Mugshots on Facebook

About a year ago, the South Burlington Police Department began posting media releases and the photos for anyone to see on its Facebook page

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    Petition Made to Stop Police From Posting Mugshots on Facebook
    File - Bloomberg via Getty Images

    The online petition calling on South Burlington, Vermont, police to stop posting mugshots on Facebook was Laura Williams' idea.

    "It's setting them up to be publicly shamed," Williams said.

    WPTZ reports Williams put together an appeal and video after she said someone she knew was arrested, photographed and then taunted online.

    "I get wanting to inform people and I get that it's public knowledge, but I don't think it's okay to post pictures on Facebook because they get messages from people saying this and that calling them horrible people and bullying and harassing them," Williams said.

    About a year ago, the South Burlington Police Department began posting media releases and the photos for anyone to see on its Facebook page.

    "What we want from our Facebook page is we want to be transparent and we want to be open to the community and we want to have a community dialogue," said Trevor Whipple, the chief of police.

    Under the current Vermont Public Records Law what the department is doing is completely legal.

    "We felt that this was a very good mechanism to present to the community 'here's people we are arresting, here's who they are' so the community can make judgments about what we were doing, how we were doing it, who we were impacting and we've gotten very favorable response from that," Whipple said.

    Recently, the department says they've noticed an upsurge in questionable comments.

    On Wednesday the department decided to disable the comment feature.

    "As a government agency, we have to be careful about that. If I delete everything you put up who am I to decide that that is a violation of something. We do have policies on Facebook we are perhaps tightening those in the last couple weeks just because frankly, for lack of a better word, some of the juvenile comments," Whipple said.

    Even though police are obligated to make arrest records available before someone is convicted, Williams believes their photos should be kept off social media.

    "I"m going to keep fighting until I get what i think is right," Williams said.

    Whipple said the department plans to make changes daily as needed. If someone has a recommendation and it is legal it welcomes that feedback.

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