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Ohio National Guard, Department of Public Safety working on plan to monitor soldiers' social media

Posted at 5:05 PM, Jul 07, 2020
and last updated 2020-07-07 20:06:55-04

After a soldier was accused of posting white supremacist ideals to a social media page, the Ohio National Guard said the Department Of Public Safety is working on a plan to monitor soldiers' social media accounts.

Major General John C. Harris Jr. said posts like the ones the soldier was accused of posting brings into question whether that soldier can protect everyone in a crisis.

"It erodes trust and that's why we can't tolerate this behavior in our ranks," said Harris Jr.

The soldier was one of 100 Ohio National Guard soldiers sent to Washington D.C. to aid with protests related to the Black Lives Matter movement. Harris Jr. said that's when the FBI discovered a white power post on his social media account. An FBI spokesperson declined to comment on the investigation.

The post appeared more than a month ago, and since then, Governor Mike DeWine ordered the Ohio National Guard to do something about it.

"Our Ohio National Guard members are in a position of trust and authority during times of crisis, and anyone who displays malice toward a specific group of Americans has no place in the Ohio National Guard," said DeWine.

The soldier is still in the process of being removed from the National Guard, according to Harris Jr. He said the National Guard isn't releasing the name of the soldier at this point in the investigation.

"When we show up we have to be fair, and treat everyone with dignity and respect, and the person who’s openly expressing the kinds of views that this individual expressed erodes our ability to do that," said Harris Jr.

DPS is still developing the plans, with intent to monitor soldiers' posts any time they will be working directly with civilians. A spokesperson with DPS said they cannot elaborate, because the plan is still in process and they don't know when it will be complete. DPS is involved with the plan because, according to Harris Jr., the military avoids intruding on privacy.

"One of the things that’s very important to us is that we as the military, we don’t intrude into the lives of Americans, us persons, to include our own servicemen," said Harris Jr.

WCPO has reached out to DeWine to determine whether the plan is under a deadline mandated by his office, but has not yet heard back.