Williamson Co. to vote on changing social media policy after fallout from deputy’s posts

Williamson County

WILLIAMSON COUNTY, Texas (KXAN) — A top deputy’s disturbing Facebook posts may lead to a new social media policy for people who work for Williamson County.

The Commissioners Court will vote Tuesday to possibly revise the existing guidelines for social media use in the Employee Policy Manual. They, however, would not outline any specifics ahead of Tuesday’s presentation.

Staff members spent the past week also reviewing the policy regarding employees’ “personal use of social media” if they start or maintain a county account. According to the proposed changes posted online, that particular policy could read:

“County employees must keep County related social media accounts separate from their personal social media accounts. To distinguish official accounts from personal accounts, employees are not allowed to use ‘WilCo,’ ‘Williamson County,’ departmental logos, seals or badges in their personal account names. It is also recommended that employees include a disclaimer in the bio or description sections of personal accounts similar to the following: ‘The postings here are my own opinion and do not reflect or represent the opinions of Williamson County.'”

These discussions are happening after the fallout from Commander Steve Deaton’s graphic posts on his personal Facebook page started circulating publicly. Residents have spoken at previous Commissioners Courts to call for his resignation.

At a budget voting session on Aug. 15, Williamson County Judge Bill Gravell finally spoke publicly about this controversy and made a direct request to Deaton.

“As the Williamson County judge, today, I call on Commander Steve Deaton, if you have any semblance of integrity left, to resign and step down from your position,” Gravell said. “You are an embarrassment to Williamson County, and you are a disgrace to our sheriff’s office.”

Gravell also addressed liking one of Deaton’s posts. That particular one used toys to depict the murder of a black NFL player who knelt for the national anthem. Some of the commander’s other posts made light of date rape and violence against women.

“I liked a social media post that was inappropriate, and I made a mistake because I didn’t look at the whole image. As your county judge, I own that,” Gravell said. “But also as your county judge, I want to say this: regardless of the requests from a few citizens, I’m not resigning from public office. Today, I’m leading. I’ve been thoughtful; I’ve been patient; I’ve been kind for the sheriff and his team to resolve this matter, which this Court has no authority or power over.”

On Tuesday the commissioners’ agenda states that they could discuss during executive session a new complaint filed by Deaton through the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC).

Connie Odom, the county’s public affairs manager, told KXAN that the county had not yet received a copy of Deaton’s complaint. People can file complaints through the EEOC regarding claims about discrimination or harassment on the job.

It’s not immediately known what’s included in Deaton’s filing.

During the county’s budget voting session on Aug. 15, Gravell asked the other commissioners to include $5,000 in the new budget for “respectful workplace training” for most county employees and elected officials. They agreed unanimously to support that program.

Ahead of that vote, Gravell also mentioned another controversy earlier this year involving Deaton. A complaint filed by a Georgetown lawyer in April alleges Deaton made a sexually inappropriate comment about a producer of “Live PD.”

“Today I will begin taking steps to make sure that all of the employees we do have power and authority over understand that there is no tolerance in the workplace for mistreating ladies,” Gravell said. “What Commander Deaton did and said about the producer of ‘Live PD’ was inappropriate, and it was wrong, and it was immoral. We have no place for that in Williamson County.”

On Aug. 20, the Commissioners Court agreed unanimously to terminate the county’s contract with the production company behind the popular A&E show.

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