The First Amendment right to free speech has been called into question recently in town, with regard to actions involving former police commissioner Thomas Joyce. This pertains to Darien resident Reed Barthold\u2019s discovery of multiple tweets made on Joyce\u2019s Twitter account that were a \u201cdegradation of the town and country\u2019s very ideals,\u201d according to First Selectman Jayme Stevenson. Joyce has subsequently resigned from his position. For more, read here: Darien Police Commissioner resigns after concerns raised over his tweets While many residents have commented on social media that Barthold did the town a good service for bringing attention to Joyce\u2019s tweets, at least one person felt the opposite strong enough to put his thoughts, albeit anonymously, in the mail. On Monday, Darien resident and RTM Finance and Budget Committee member Stacey Jo Mills Ti\u00e9. tweeted she received an anonymous letter, which included a copy of the Darien Times article that spoke of Joyce\u2019s resignation. Above the letter was a statement referring to Ti\u00e9\u2019s social media comment, which said Barthold is courageous for his actions. The writer said: \u201c\u2018It took a lot of courage\u2019 for Reed Barthold to decide that he is judge and jury for all around him, and for him to search through 4 years of tweets to find something that he found offensive. Reed has clearly violated his first amendment rights, and your comments further encourages this appalling behavior. The only person Reed Barthold should be holding accountable is himself.\u201d Ti\u00e9 sent the letter to the Darien Police Department. \u201cDarien has an opportunity to come together, reflect, heal and grow,\u201d Ti\u00e9 wrote on Twitter. \u201cWe can\u2019t be afraid of difficult conversations. Together we can make Darien an inclusive, accepting community,\u201d During public comment at last week\u2019s Board of Selectmen meeting, Barthold, who spoke virtually, referenced the large reaction his actions and comments in have made in the town. \u201cI have been made aware through unproven and notional back channels of alleged push back, legal and otherwise, as a result of my letters and my comments made about certain parties here this evening,\u201d he said. \u201cCertainly, speculative remarks are held by me with little to no substantive regard.\u201d Read Barthold\u2019s op\/ed here: Op\/ed: Darien has the opportunity to right previous wrongs and take action Barthold continued: \u201cHowever, any thinly-veiled attempt to silence these actions for what they are, speaking truth to power, is exactly what is wrong with the system.\u201d Social media policy There was a lengthy discussion during public comment at the meeting about appointed and elected officials\u2019 Twitter accounts and Darien\u2019s social media policy. Selectman Sarah Newmann said she\u2019s concerned that Joyce\u2019s Twitter posts had been up for awhile. \u201cI had no idea how many had seen the posts and interpreted the comments to mean that the town of Darien shared Mr. Joyce\u2019s feelings,\u201d Newmann said. She also said the town should have a social media policy. \u201cWe need to determine the standards of what we want our elected and appointed officials to be held to,\u201d she said. Town Administrator Kate Buch said Darien has a social media policy regarding \u201cwhat we post as a town.\u201d However, Buch said the town can\u2019t enforce restrictions on employees or appointed officials for what they do with their private social media accounts. She said that as a board, \u201cyou want to consider how you address that when you consider people for appointments.\u201d A question town officials may want to ask candidates is, \u201cWas there anything in their background, including on social media, that might prove embarrassing to the town?\u201d Buch said. Stevenson said she supports that, and that it should become a routine part of the process for both the Republican and Democratic Town Committees, \u201cso that anyone that they refer to us has at least one round of that inquiry.\u201d Selectman David Martin said the initial source of dissemination of information should not be from one\u2019s personal account, but instead, should come from the town of Darien\u2019s account. Buch manages the town of Darien\u2019s Twitter account. Martin suggested the town ask potential nominees to disclose what social media they use and ways to identify them on social media in terms of their log-in name, so \u201cif the board wants to review their social media activity, we can identify them readily,\u201d he said. However, town attorney Wayne Fox, who was present at the meeting, said the difficulty is there\u2019s a statute that is very clear that that kind of request is inappropriate for an employee. Public comment That meeting\u2019s public comment portion has also recently raised some discussion about town protocol during the pandemic. During the early stages of COVID-19, with Town Hall closed, residents were encouraged to send in written comment due to social distancing, which could be shared during the meeting. More recently, the board has met in Town Hall, socially distanced, and has allowed residents to register to speak via signing up to speak live stream from a separate location. At last week\u2019s Board of Selectmen meeting, the board addressed the public comment section. They invited Barthold to speak. Following his verbal comment, Town Administrator Kate Buch confirmed with board members she had emailed the submitted written comments to each selectmen earlier that day. None of the selectmen requested the public comment be read aloud at that time and they moved on to the next item on the agenda. At least two residents \u2014 Former First Selectman Evonne Klein and Ann Reed \u2014 told The Darien Times they had submitted comments and expected to have their comments read at the meeting. After learning her comments weren\u2019t read, Klein told The Darien Times she was very disappointed. She said public comment is an opportunity for all Darien residents to \u201chave a say and be heard not only by elected officials, but also by fellow Darien residents on issues that are of concern to them.\u201d Additionally, Klein said, \u201cThe protocol for public comment should be clear, easy to obtain and function during normal times as well as during challenging times, such as what we are facing today. The ability for residents to have a say is critical to the workings of our town and government.\u201d To sign up for public comment at a Board of Selectmen meeting, send comments in by email to DarienBOS@darienct.gov by 5 p.m. on the day of the meeting. Klein added, however, that the issue of public comment can\u2019t serve as a distraction to the \u201cchallenges facing the town and nation\u201d that have surfaced in the last several weeks. \u201cI would hope that the selectmen establish a clear protocol and inform residents of how we can participate in public comment. Then we can get to the work and come together as a community to address the challenges we face in our home town,\u201d Klein said. Klein said she plans to read her comments at the next Board of Selectmen meeting on July 6. You can also read them here. When The Darien Times asked First Selectman Jayme Stevenson if emailed public comments were addressed at the meeting, she said, \u201cWe welcomed the public offering public comment as we always do. Folks were given the opportunity to register to offer live comment as Reed Barthold did. We received a number of letters which were distributed to the BOS and will be attached to our minutes, making them viewable by the public.\u201d Additionally, Darien Town Administrator Kate Buch said she had asked Town Counsel what it meant to read something into the record. \u201cHe told me that traditionally it meant to append the written comments to the record of the meeting - not to actually read them all,\u201d Buch said. Buch added she forwarded all e-mailed comments to the board during the day and stated that she had done so at the meeting. \u201cNone of the board members asked to actually have the e-mails read aloud - so I didn\u2019t,\u201d Buch said. \u201cI would have done so if requested by a member of the board.\u201d Moving forward Barthold said he plans to reach out to Darien Ethics Committee Chairman Tom Moore to ask some questions, including: \u00a0\u201cHow does the RTM Board of Ethics conduct oversight on town officials and their actions? \u00a0 \u201cShould that oversight not exist, or not in a constructive capacity, why?\u201d \u00a0 \u201cHow is the Ethics Committee going to change to further ensure things like this don\u2019t happen again?\u201d In his comments, Barthold made reference to Joyce\u2019s tweets, saying, \u201cThe moral arch of history is long, but it bends towards justice \u2014 the day comments objectifying women, defending assault, and calling for profiling of any religious group are preferable to an appointed official being held accountable, is the day this country's fragile experiment begins to die.\u201d On Monday, Ti\u00e9 told The Darien Times she was definitely rattled upon receiving the anonymous letter, but after sharing with the police, she thought it over a few days and decided to share it publicly. \u201cI decided that if anything, I wanted some good to come out of it. I wanted to say, \u2018Hey, we are better than this. Let\u2019s put this stuff aside and start working together instead,\u2019\u201d she said. firstname.lastname@example.org Additional reporting by Susan Shultz.