Social Media Safety from Commanding Officers

Commanding officers in law enforcement are responsible for managing the reputation of their department. While individual officers need to be responsible in ensuring that anything they post online remains private, and that it does not reflect poorly on their department, commanding officers can still take extra measures:

  • Commanding officers can learn about social media – even those that are older, and less technologically friendly can take steps to learn about social media. It’s just not possible to enforce policies if commanding officers don’t understand how everything works themselves.
  • Discourage problematic behavior – there was a time when many law enforcement officers would take ‘trophy’ photos as souvenirs for interesting things they encountered on patrol. Of course, this was before social media where things end up online and can easily be distributed around. Photos like this simply cannot be taken these days, and they definitely cannot be distributed. Disciplinary action must be taken if anyone catches officers violating set rules in this regard.
  • Set an enforce guidelines for proper use – don’t assume that officers know that they should never post a photo of themselves in uniform on their personal pages, set written policies and issue warnings when previous guideline
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