Social media has become a significant part of just about everyone’s life. People post an incredible amount of personal information including pictures of themselves and their families with abandon. It’s incredible how much information is out there floating around the web. While this might be okay for the average citizen, when it comes to being a police officer, you just can’t afford to be this casual with your personal information or that of your family. Keep in mind that no one is trying to tell you not to have social media accounts, what we are trying to say to you is that you need to be very careful what you post.
About the Things You Post
According to the First Amendment, you have the right to say anything you want. Yet when you are a police officer, you may find it to your advantage to be very careful in what you post and choose to repost. There have been a number of instances in recent history where an officer has been given disciplinary action over something they have posted online.
Often this happens when an officer posts an off-color comment that could perhaps be considered as some form of harassment. You never know who might be monitoring your Facebook, Instagram, or Twitter account. What might not offend you, might cause a serious problem with your boss. Even if he doesn’t see it firsthand, you can almost count on it getting back to him quickly.
Never Talk Business
Under no circumstances should you ever mention or discuss an ongoing case on any form of social media. Not only can discussing a case in such a public forum result in some form of disciplinary action being taken but doing so can jeopardize the case. You might think posting pictures of a recent traffic stop, an accident, or a suspect wouldn’t be a big deal. But if any of the parties in the photos file a complaint, it could result in a lawsuit, disciplinary action, and possibly the loss of your job.
Keep Your Private Information Private
One last crucial tip, one that applies to not only you as a police officer, but the rest of your family as well. Keep the amount of private information displayed on any and all social media accounts to a minimum. You might be surprised at how easy it is for a suspect to use your social media accounts to track you and your family to your home.
You have little to no control over the security levels of each of the different social media sites and even less of an idea of how the companies involved provide security for your personal information. Your safety and that of your family depends on how seriously each member of your family takes the threat of social media.
Simply put, if you must use social media, you need to pay very, very close attention to what you and every member of your family posts on every form of social media they use.