It seems like there’s a new story every day about some idiot criminal misusing social media in a way that gets them arrested. Recent examples include the guy who posted photos of money and booze, all while ducking out on child support. Or how about the mom who tried to sell her kids for $4,000 on Facebook. Maybe you remember the moron who posted about his hit & run, or the various idiots who have threatened to assassinate the President on Twitter. The list goes on and on.
But it’s not just criminals who can be bozos online. Those on the other side of the law can also find themselves in hot water over social media posts.
That’s why NYPD Commissioner Raymond Kelly was forced to issue a new, three-page internal order outlining new guidelines for cops and how they behave on the internet. The NY Daily News obtained a copy of the order, which bars police officers from “disclosing or alluding to their status as member of the department” on the internet.
Another thing that officers are no longer allowed to do: post photos of themselves in uniform, unless it’s a photo of an official event.
Officers in violation of the new rules may be subject to disciplinary actions – even termination.
According to the Daily News’ report, here are some of the recent events that led to the need for such a decree:
Capt. Jeffrey Schiff, commanding officer of the 76th Precinct in Brooklyn, recently left the department vulnerable to litigation by tweeting the names and mug shots of paroled convicts.
Last August, 17 cops were disciplined for posting racist and offensive comments on a Facebook page called “No More West Indian Day Detail.” About 150 comments were posted — some calling revelers “savages” and “animals.” Investigators found that about 20 of the people who posted matched the names of NYPD officers.
A recent story from Pennsylvania shows just how easy it is to be forced out of the police force due to a social media post. A Confluence police chief was forced to resign after a somewhat racy but ultimately innocuous photo emerged on Facebook. The photo featured the chief posing with a woman who was holding multiple firearms. The woman turned out to be his wife, but the damage was already done.
Everyone, including the police, has to be careful about what they post online. Once it’s public on Facebook or Twitter, it’s virtually impossible to take back.
[Photo via NYPD, Facebook]