August 10, 2021 (updated August 18)
Brothers and Sisters,
E2SSB 5051 made several additions to the personal information peace officers must authorize the CJTC to access. Items added include things such as checking a national decertification index; all CJTC records, all disciplinary files from previous employers (including the reason for separation) and, most importantly for this email, “social media accounts.” Please note that the law is very clear on one point: Officers are NOT required to provide login/password information even if an investigation regarding certification or decertification is initiated with the Commission.
E2SSB 5051 also identified additional information and records that peace officers (including corrections officers) must authorize the CJTC to have access to when an investigation/decertification matter is initiated before the Commission. What the CJTC has done with their recent email is incorporate these items into a revised authorization form and coupled this new form with an online training course (the officer must sign a webform at the conclusion of the course to provide such authorization). This is exactly same form previously completed at time of hire (or in 2001), with the items listed above under E2SSB 5051 added.
Keep in mind the following as the process evolves to clarify legislation where needed. First, The CJTC does not have access to officer’s personnel files, disciplinary files, termination files, civil or criminal investigation records, or social media accounts unless/until an investigation is initiated by the CJTC. We are working to see what that access process might look like and how it dovetails into the formal decertification process.
Second, the social media account disclosure does not require officers to “facilitate” a review of their social media accounts or consent to a review unless or until an investigation matter is before the Commission.
You should see a revised form from the CJTC, which should be sent out soon, that contains the following sentence: “I further recognize that as a condition of my peace officer or corrections officer certification I am legally required to facilitate a review of any of my social media accounts immediately upon a request by a representative of the Commission and that such a review will only be conducted for investigatory purposes relating to alleged conduct that could result in a decertification action.”
WAFOP worked with the Commission in developing this language and thinks it provides the proper clarification we need right now as we work toward a more permanent solution, which may come in the form of further guidance or rulemaking.
There are a variety of issues that require further attention in implementing these new requirements. We continue to work with the CJTC staff and other stakeholders to develop guidance language for peace officers and LEAs regarding the following:
Legislation may ultimately be needed in 2022, but in the meantime, we’ll continue to roll up our sleeves and find reasonable solutions to the items ESSB 5051 left unanswered. While we don’t believe that much will change regarding the disclosure statement as it is an accurate reflection of E2SSB 5051, we are encouraging members to hold off signing until these items can be clarified. You have until October 31, 2021 to sign so there is additional time for us to work on these issues. We will keep you updated on our progress and our advice regarding signing well in advance of the deadline.
Please let me know if your department is mandating that you sign the disclosure statement before that time.
Northwest Legal Advocates, LLC