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Social media a new dilemma for law enforcers

By:  SUSAN BROWN

Nearly three months after a student posted on Facebook the alleged threats a Lake Station teacher wrote on classroom chalkboard, prosecutors mull criminal charges against the man.

The posting set off a maelstrom of media attention, leading the veteran Edison High School business educator to retire.

The message to a sixth-period class read, in part: “A. You are idiots!!! B. The guns are loaded!!! C. Care to try me???”

Veteran teacher Jeff Kincaid is reported to have been angered at the time by students’ conduct toward a substitute teacher during his absence.

Kincaid was placed on administrative leave March 1. Police took their findings to the office of Lake County Prosecuting Attorney Bernard Carter for review later that month.

Police are reported to have been considering a charge of intimidation, which can be filed as a felony if the offense takes place on school property. Telephone calls from The Times to Lake Station police officials were not returned.

Kincaid’s attorney, Andrew Yoder, of Merrillville, declined to comment, as did Carter’s office.

However, law enforcement professionals not directly connected to the pending case discussed how social media is changing their world.

“It brings out issues we never had to deal with in the past,” Porter County Prosecutor Brian Gensel told The Times in Munster, referring to social media such as Facebook, Twitter and other Internet platforms.

Gensel said his office has had to deal with whether posts on social media sites constitute threats. He said threats can lead to charges of harassment or intimidation.

Gensel said the determination can be “tricky,” depending on the threat’s specificity or directness.

“You can’t harass a hospital, but you can harass an employee,” Gensel noted as an example.

Harassment is a lesser charge, confined to a B-level misdemeanor, he said. However, intimidation can rise from an A-level misdemeanor to a D-level felony. The higher the letter, the more serious the offense.  Read More

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A Revolution in Social Networking

Posted on June 3, 2013, in #social media and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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