The NYPD is cracking down on social media use by its own force, both in response to and in order to prevent embarrassing incidents involving sharing to sites like Facebook and Twitter.
The NYPD social media guidelines were disseminated in a memo this week from New York City Police Commissioner Raymond W. Kelly, and address many new, gray areas of etiquette that could invite unwanted scrutiny for the force if not adhered to by officers.
As the NYPD social media memo is sliced and diced by the media, questions have arisen about the ability of an employer to direct one’s off-duty or off the clock behavior — but most police unions seem to be okay with the updates.
Edward Mullins, president of the Sergeants Benevolent Association, said of the NYPD’s new social media crackdown:
“I don’t necessarily agree with all of it, but I understand the reasoning behind it … As police officers, we represent the people of this city and the department. You have to have integrity as cops.”
NYPD officers were advised to keep rank and position on the downlow when using Facebook, and told “not to disclose or allude to their status as members of the department.” Posting pics in uniform outside of images from official events was also discouraged by the force’s top brass.
But not everyone was as accepting of the new standards — Robert Gonzelez, a police training expert at John Jay College, said the NYPD social media guidelines constitute “unauthorized censorship,” adding that “members of the NYPD are proud public officials and should be authorized to express that right on social media sites without retribution.”
Mullins said, however, that part of the consideration involved the NYPD’s perception and the possibility of social media behavior to interfere. He commented:
“I’m a New York City police office. If it comes out that I posted racial jokes or sexual jokes or antigay jokes, what happens when I respond to a complainant who happens to fit one of those profiles? Do they trust me?”
Sanctions noted in the memo on NYPD social media expectations include terminations for officers who may fall afoul of rules.