The New York Police Department this week issued new social media guidelines, outlining in detail what its officers can and cannot post on Facebook, Twitter, and other sites. As the New York Daily News reports, the three-page internal memo was published Monday, forcing many of the department's 35,000 officers to revise and edit their various social media profiles.
Until now, officers were allowed to use social media with relatively free reign; many openly identified themselves as NYPD employees, and posted photos of themselves in uniform. Under the new guidelines, though, officers are "urged not to disclose or allude to their status," as doing so could "undermine their credibility" and make them ineligible for more secretive positions.
"exercise good judgement and demonstrate professionalism."
The rules also warn officers against tagging photos of their colleagues, though they are allowed to post photos taken at police ceremonies. Among the edict's more obvious provisions is a stipulation that prohibits officers from posting photos of crime scenes, or information about witnesses. Police are prohibited from engaging with witnesses or defense lawyers on social media sites, and cannot friend or follow minors. Violating any of these rules, the NYPD says, could result in disciplinary action or termination.
"Members of the service utilizing personal social media sites are to exercise good judgement and demonstrate the same degree of professionalism expected of them while performing their official duties," the order reads.
This week's move comes more than a year after the NYPD disciplined 17 officers over offensive comments posted to a Facebook page called "No More West Indian Day Detail." On the page, some commenters referred to participants in the West Indian American Day parade as "savages" and "animals." The New York Fire Department also came under scrutiny last week, when it disciplined two employees over racist tweets. The NYFD tells the Daily News that it's currently reviewing its guidelines to incorporate rules on social media.
While some have expressed concern over the guidelines' broad scope, Edward Mullins, head of the Sergeants Benevolent Association, openly supported the NYPD's move. "We have to be held to a higher standard," Mullins told the Daily News.