ORANGE COUNTY, Fla. – The Orange County Sheriff’s Office has launched an internal investigation into a deputy who has been posting videos of herself on the social media platform TikTok while wearing the agency’s uniform and possibly using a county-owned vehicle, News 6 has learned.
Deputy Shelby Abramson, 29, began creating TikTok videos a few months after she was hired by the sheriff’s office in November 2019.
The agency did not receive any complaints about Abramson’s TikTok videos, a sheriff’s spokesperson told News 6.
Instead, the internal investigation was initiated after the videos were discovered by a fellow deputy in Abramson’s chain of command.
Abramson remains on the job while the probe is underway. She could not be immediately reached for comment.
In many of the videos, the school resource officer can be seen dancing and lip-syncing to popular songs, including a few that contain explicit lyrics like “Me Too” by Kevin Gates.
In other clips, Abramson encourages TikTok viewers to support law enforcement and provides insight into life as a deputy.
“We carry one gun on our belt,” Abramson said in one video as she displayed what appeared to be her county-issued law enforcement weapons. “So when you’re looking at my belt, I have a Taser and I have a gun. Only one gun, honey.”
Abramson appears to be standing in front of a county-owned patrol vehicle or sitting inside one during some of the TikTok videos. Other videos show her inside a nondescript office.
Her TikTok account has nearly 64,000 followers. That’s nearly the same number of people who follow the official Orange County Sheriff’s Office Twitter feed and almost four times as many people who follow the Twitter account of Abramson’s boss, Sheriff John Mina.
As part of its investigation, sheriff’s officials are trying to determine where the videos were recorded.
Orange County Sheriff’s Office policy establishes rules governing how the agency’s official social media channels should be managed. The policy also provides guidelines on how employees should approach their personal social media accounts.
“Agency personnel are free to express themselves as private citizens on social media sites to the degree that their speech does not impair working relationships of this agency or negatively affect the public perception of the agency,” the policy states.
Employees are cautioned that speech made pursuant to their official duties and responsibilities is not protected under the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution and may form the basis for discipline if deemed detrimental to the agency.
The agency’s policy cautions employees to avoid displaying “agency logos, uniforms, or similar identifying items on personal social media pages.”
“I think there is a huge plus to social media and law enforcement. It just needs to be done the right way,” News 6 Traffic Safety Expert Trooper Steve Montiero said.
While employed full time with the Florida Highway Patrol, Montiero said he started the agency’s Twitter account.
“I saw there was potential in interacting with the community that way,” he said.
Montiero said he has seen a growing number of law enforcement officers using social media, in part to help humanize police and boost support among citizens.
“They want people to see, ‘Hey, look, I’m your neighbor. I listen to the same music as you,’” Montiero said.
But Montiero cautions that, if done improperly, such posts and videos can raise questions about what government employees are doing on taxpayer time.
“Should (the officers) be responding to calls? Are they missing calls because of this? Do I think any of that is happening? Probably not,” Montiero said. “But it’s all about perception.”