City pursuing Facebook subpoena related to deletion of Griffin PD press release

Griffin Police Department Chief Mike Yates

SHEILA A. MATHEWS :::

The city of Griffin is inquiring into the removal of a press release from the official City of Griffin Police Department Facebook page.

Officials say they will be looking into the possibility of fraudulent use of the GPD social media account.

The press release, posted Thursday, Feb. 24, was related to a security breach of the Griffin Police Department (GPD) Crime Lab and evidence storage room that involved both doors being left unlocked, open and publicly accessible for more than ten hours.

On Friday morning, that press release was removed from the City of Griffin Police Department Facebook page. The GPD press release, which was emailed to press members after being posted on Facebook, may be read here::
(Article continues below press release.)

The GRIP Publisher Sheila Mathews first emailed GPD Chief Mike Yates and asked three questions – was the press release deleted; if so, why; and if the original post along with all comments and reactions had been archived.

Two hours later, those same questions were emailed to Griffin City Manager Jessica O’Connor.

A separate Open Records request was also submitted Friday seeking production of the archived social media post.

When no response had been provided to the three questions by late Monday afternoon, they were forwarded to Griffin Mayor Doug Hollberg.

Less than one hour later, Griffin Staff Attorney Kelsey Carden replied by email, stating that prior to Mathews’ Friday email, city officials were unaware the GPD press release was no longer posted on the agency’s official Facebook page.

“We learned that the press release was no longer posted at the time of your email and immediately began working to determine the issue,” she said, later adding, “As for your questions below (regarding the press release removal), the answer is that we do not know. I know this answer may not seem satisfactory to you, but it is the truth. We have spent hours working with IT to pull data from our Facebook page and accounts which have access to that page. We initially suspected it may have been removed by Facebook, but we are still uncertain if that is the case.”

Carden alleged that as officials were looking into the removal of this GPD press release, they learned that other posts had been removed, too.

“We have discovered that nearly every post made by the Griffin Police Department in other community Facebook groups from Feb. 25th have been removed, as well, not just this press release but others (though some of those press releases at least remain on our main page),” she said. “Right now, all we know is that no one that was authorized to access the City of Griffin Police Department page deleted the post. We will be formulating a subpoena to Facebook for additional data, including device information and IP addresses, to determine whether there was fraudulent use of our account and pursue criminal charges should that be the case. All credentials related to this page have been changed.”

In her email to Mathews, Carden stressed that the press release was not deliberately deleted to remove the information from the public.

“From your email below, it seems that your bigger issue is that the press release is not available on Facebook? (sic) Let me be clear: the post was not ‘removed’ or ‘deleted’ as a method of recanting or hiding the City’s statement regarding this incident,” Carden said. “After all, we are the ones that created and publicized it. No need to collect screen shots, as the press release will say the same thing in each one and the City does not deny that we posted it to our Facebook page.”

She said it may take a few weeks to obtain the data and other documents responsive to the city’s Facebook subpoena.

The GRIP is awaiting a return call regarding questions related to Griffin Staff Attorney Kelsey Carden’s email and the deletion of this GPD press release.

Publisher’s note: The first article based on Mathews’ investigation of the GPD Crime Lab and evidence storage room security breach can be found here:

The GRIP Publisher Sheila Mathews’ public response to the GPD press release that she posted on the Griffin Police Department’s Facebook page can be read here in its entirety:

“Propaganda – the spreading of ideas, information, or rumor for the purpose of helping or injuring an institution, a cause, or a person.
Chief Yates, Good morning! I see you had time to post a ‘press release.’ It’s unfortunate that you chose to invest your time in the creation and dissemination of government propaganda rather than respond to my questions regarding this security breach. How ironic that I emailed those questions to you and requested a response just yesterday and this self-serving narrative magically appears today. That’s all right. Actually, it’s outstanding because this will serve well as the PERFECT example of the necessity of an independent press, one that isn’t controlled by your personal feelings and refuses to fear you, which I never will regardless of your threats against me personally or professionally. The first investigative article about this security breach that I have been working on for nearly two weeks now will still be published in The GRIP today. I need to thank you for giving people the most crystal-clear way imaginable to compare your version of the truth and what actually happened. I hope you have an awesome day!”

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Comments

  1. Buzz Lightyear says:

    Lets Go Larry!

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