THOMASVILLE — A Thomas County Sheriff’s Office has been suspended without pay in the wake of a message he posted on Facebook.

Jason Shierling, who has been employed by the sheriff’s office for 19 months, was suspended Wednesday morning. The suspension is for three working days, pending the outcome of a sheriff’s office internal investigation into the post.

The post was brought to the sheriff’s office’s attention late Tuesday night. Sheriff Carlton Powell called a meeting of office administrators early Wednesday morning.

“We read the post. We discussed it,” said Capt. Steven Jones, sheriff’s office public information officer.

Powell called Shierling, 27, to his office and suspended him immediately without pay.

The Facebook post — posted while the deputy was off-duty — referred to a video of employees at a Thomasville fast-food restaurant fighting in the eatery parking lot during the weekend.

The video, recorded on a phone by someone sitting in a vehicle in the parking lot, has been distributed widely.

Said Jones in reference to the post, “It was a comment made that was in poor judgment and a poor choice of words.”

The sheriff’s office policy on use of Internet and social network “as a medium of communication impacting this department” says:

“The Internet, blogs, Twitter, Facebook, social networking sites and any other medium of electronic communication shall not be used in a manner that is detrimental to the mission and function of this agency. ... Any publication, both on-duty and off-duty, through any medium that is potentially adverse to the operation, morale, or efficiency of this agency will be deemed a violation of this policy.”

Said Jones, “We have a strict policy. It says you do not say on social media anything that would bias, shame, discredit or embarrass our office.”

Senior reporter Patti Dozier can be reached at (229) 226-2400, ext. 1820.

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