by Ian D Scofield
Social media is a great tool for law enforcement but it can also have the negative effect. Even private content on social media websites can get you in trouble. Today we are going to look at a few of the things that you should avoid doing on social media.
There isn’t a much easier way to get fired than to post pictures of evidence on the internet. Making evidence public doesn’t just reflect poorly on your department (and you), it can compromise the evidence. Not only that, depending on the case, it can harm the whole case.
Depending on what state you are in, posting pictures of an arrestee to social media without department permission isn’t just against policy but it can be against the law. Posting a picture of an arrestee to any social media violates the individual’s privacy. Even though they are under arrest, they still has a level of protection afford to them. This is part of the whole, innocent until proven guilty part of the law. An important part.
People from every industry out there have been fired over posting content about work. We already mentioned arrestee content and evidence, but just about any work related topic can get you in trouble. An officer recently posted negatively about someone from city administration and was fired for the post. Most agencies allow you to have a freedom of speech but do not want you to inhibit your ability to work with others.
Content on your social media should be appropriate, if not respectful. The last thing you want is to get fired over comments about race, gender, or similar topics. Vile posts have gotten more than one officer fired in the last several years.
Once you get fired for saying something inappropriate on Facebook or another social media website, it will be extremely hard to get another job in law enforcement. If the poor choice of making a bad post goes viral, as multiple have, it will be hard to get a job in any industry.
The posts that you make publicly and/or privately are not the only thing you have to worry about. Messaging also need to be kept appropriate. Messages may be private but who is to say the other person won’t show them to your manager or boss? You can also be compelled to show your messages under certain circumstances.
Even if you don’t get fired for any of the above social media taboos, it can make doing your job much more difficult. The public, other officers, and those who work for the city may all look at you differently and interact with you differently. And whether you want it to or not, your posts reflect your whole department and can make it harder for other officers to do their jobs too.
Many of the social media mishaps that you need to look for, are similar to other jobs. While police officers have the freedom of speech like everyone else, their speech can have far more impact than what other people say. Watching your social media accounts and what you say is important.
Posting something that will get you fired offered comes from not thinking before you post. The process of posting has become so easy that you can practically do it without thinking. Just like PTT on your radio stands for Push-To-Talk not Push-To-Think, your social media buttons correspond to the same things.
Keep your social media in mind and stay safe out there.
Did you just get a job as a law enforcement officer or are you trying to get one?
Law enforcement is a very rewarding career, one that can enhance your life and benefit you greatly. Preparing for a job in law enforcement shares some similarities to other careers. At the same time it has unique challenges to overcome.
Let’s take a moment to examine how you can prepare for a job as a law enforcement officer.