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January 26 2008

How Social Networking Bit Officer Nohejl In The Ass

NohejlIt seems that you are no longer only responsible for your own actions, but also the actions of anyone you befriend on a social network.

School resource officer John Nohejl of the New Port Richey Police Department is under criminal investigation is under investigation by the his department and the Florida attorney general’s cyber crimes unit for providing pornography to minors. I know, what a horrible crime, right?

Want to know how he did it?

Officer Nohejl has a MySpace profile, something that was encouraged and cleared by both the school and police department, so that he could interact with the kids that he sees each day. Of his 154 friends, it seems one of them had a link on their profile to something called ‘Amateur Match Free Sex’, meaning that children could reach the porn site in just three clicks.

In a quote to the St. Petersburg Times, Sandy Copes, a spokesperson for the Attorney General, said, “I am sure the attorney general would be extremely concerned if a member of the trusted law enforcement community was either inadvertently or directly placing students at risk to being exposed to inappropriate content.” The problem is that Officer Nohejl didn’t place the kids at risk, even “inadvertently”.

In the same article, Chief Martin “Mo” Rickus said “the department will look into how the links got there and what role, if any, Nohejl played.” Um… what role he played? You mean the role he had of getting on someone else’s account and inserting a link? The chief also went on to say that “It’s unfortunate. We apologize that this happened. But it’s something that can happen on any site. We’re going to look into it and see that it doesn’t happen again.” YOU HAVE NOTHING TO APOLOGIZE FOR!

If you go to the officer’s profile now, you’ll find the following statement:

*****DISCLAIMER: NEITHER I NOR THE NEW PORT RICHEY POLICE DEPARTMENT ARE NOT RESPONSIBLE FOR ANY CONTENT FOUND ON OTHER MYSPACE PROFILES LINKED TO OR THAT CAN BE FOUND IN OUR FRIENDS LIST.*****

This should be the end of the story. The officer did nothing wrong, and if you read his comments from students and parents, he is obviously a loved part of the school community. As I said, he has 154 friends, is he supposed to check each friends profile daily for questionable content? Is he supposed to be now not only his own keeper, but the keeper of everyone who talks to him?

So, ready for where this story gets even odder? According to the original story I read on Wired, Lauren Weinstein of People for Internet Responsibility was following the story and investigated the schools website where he found a page with links to sites for clip art. Testing their three clicks theory he checked out the sites and discovered one was now a gay porn site.

The page has since been removed from the site and the principle is “outraged”. Will there be an investigation of him now?

However you slice this, this is despicable and wrong. The officer did nothing wrong, and the stress this must be causing him is just cruel. You can NOT be held responsible for what someone else does with their social profile. Yes, it was unfortunate and embarrassing, but to launch a “criminal investigation”? Inexcusable and wrong in my opinion.
One of my followers on Twitter, sheagunther, was posting about this story yesterday, so all credit goes to him for finding it.



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