Friday, July 11, 2014

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City's Finest Given New Social Media Rules

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City police officers will now have to think twice before sending out a tweet or posting on Facebook.

Police Commissioner Ray Kelly has issued the NYPD's first rules telling officers what they can and cannot do online.

The order tells officers not to mention or suggest what they do as members of the department.

It also bans them from posting pictures of themselves in uniform, unless the photos are from an official ceremony.

The report warns that social media can be used to "undermine the credibility" of officers as members of the department.

Any officer caught breaking the new rules will face disciplinary action and could even be fired.

Commissioner Kelly says the rules were being developed for some time.

"People who say they're part of an organization or this organization make a statement that the public can interpret as policy, that, you know, they are representative of a management or representative of what's going on in the department. You can't run an organization like that," Kelly said.

Last year, 17 officers were disciplined for posting offensive remarks about the West Indian Day Parade on Facebook.

Just this month, two fire department EMTs got in trouble for putting racist comments on Twitter.

One of them was Joseph Cassano, the son of FDNY Commissioner Salvatore Cassano.

He resigned after the online comments came to light.

New Yorkers who spoke with NY1 on Thursday mostly sides with the new rules.

"They have a degree of power when they are in uniform that most people don't have and when they're out of uniform they really have to respect the uniform," said one New Yorker.

"They should be held to a higher standard, but I also believe they should be able to exercise their freedom to express themselves. The racist stuff you're really going too far, especially posting it," said another New Yorker.

Others though, felt the new rules do violate free speech, even if it's perceived as being offensive.

"As a citizen I don't think it's right that anyone ever makes comments like that but we do have freedom of speech in this country," said one New Yorker.

"I think the commissioner has the right to curtail to a certain extent. Of course what is 'certain extent', that's a very broad thing," noted another New Yorker.

NY1 has reached out to the police unions, but so far they have not commented on the memo.

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