LAWRENCE, Kan. — The Douglas County District Attorney is criticizing the Lawrence Kansas Police Department’s use of social media.

Douglas County District Attorney Suzanne Valdez put out a statement Wednesday regarding the department sharing videos related to active investigations on social media and with media outlets, KSNT reports.

She said the videos are edited and not representative of entire incidents for which individuals may or may not be charged.

Though this office strongly favors accountability and transparency, we must not lose sight of the importance of preserving the integrity of ongoing investigations. We must not lose sight of the fundamental rights of those accused of criminal conduct. By law, despite what may be circulating across social media or in the press, the individuals depicted in those recordings remain innocent unless and until proven guilty in a court of law; not a court of public opinion.

Suzanne Valdez statement excerpt

Valdez denounced references to those depicted in the video clips as “criminals” because they have not been convicted of any crimes. In many instances, the subjects have not been criminally charged prior to the social media posts.

Lawrence police used the word “criminals” in a recent social media post on Aug. 29 in reference to a police pursuit in Lawrence for a shooting investigation.

The DA’s office said it holds “great deal of respect” for the law enforcement members they serve alongside, according to Valdez, especially for those who “competently and selflessly patrol our community.”

Valdez said cases investigated by her office must avoid any possibility of being compromised so as to ensure due process and equal access to justice for all.

The Lawrence chief of police issued a statement in response:

“Our team is committed to transparency as part of our ongoing efforts to build trust with our community. I am extremely proud of the professional men and women in our department who work hard to help keep us all safe and secure every day.”

Lawrence Chief of Police Rich Lockhart

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