If your agency has a policy addressing social media, you should be absolutely familiar with it and comply with it because failing to comply can get you in trouble. You know this to be true, don’t you?
Most agencies recognize the Internet provides unique opportunities to participate in interactive discussions and share information using a wide variety of social media. However, most agencies do not want you to cross the lines between professional and personal participation – and that cross-over has resulted in employees being disciplined and terminated.
Some personal posts and photos have reflected upon questionable off-duty conduct and comments that subsequently tarnished the professional image and association with the respective agencies. Your off-duty conduct isn’t subject to department scrutiny – or is it?
I was recently accepted by a Facebook page dedicated to the K9 industry. Although it is a private group, it is possible people on “the other side” may get access to information, photos, and comments posted on that page and it could be shared or used detrimentally outside the group.
I’ve read a few comments on this page that I would simply describe as inappropriate. I believe the comments were made without fear of consequence because the members posting are thinking undoubtedly they are immune from any liability or repercussion for their comments on this “private group” because the general public or a Plaintiff’s attorney could never access it – and that type of thinking (and perhaps attitude) is wrong. Or, the members are unfortunately clueless. Either way, a good rule to follow is “Think before you speak, type or share.”
Thankfully, I have not seen any “bite photos” recently which should never be shared – it’s evidence and confidential – and if it’s bloody and potentially inflammatory, you may regret wrongly sharing it should it become accessible to others. Recaps of a deployment that might include inappropriate side comments should not be shared – put the facts and circumstances in your report and leave it there.
After writing this reason, I did a little online research by entering “dangers of social media in law enforcement” in the search engine and here are three articles (of many) I found (click to access);
The dangers of social media for law enforcement take center stage amid series of scandals
Dangers in Use of Social Media by Law Enforcement
The Perils and Pitfalls for Police Officers Posting on Social Media
The remedy is simple – do not share your professional life within your personal social media and apply ethical considerations to your personal contributions in advance of sharing. If you have difficultly comprehending this concept and creating this separation, you should not engage in any social media.
Take care, be safe, and think before you speak, type, or share….
Bill Lewis II
This “reason” was first posted on February 22, 2021.
“Trouble” isn’t always related to incidents or predicaments that directly result in lawsuits, claims or discipline. Often times, our actions or inactions that are missed, deliberately overlooked or downplayed may lead to nothing or can later lead to mistakes or bad incidents with minimal to serious repercussions. A reason we get in trouble can be minor or simple at first glance – or even serious – but a combination of these factors can often have disastrous consequences.
These “reasons” are provided periodically as a collection in-progress based on actual incidents and real attitudes as well as feedback received at HITS, the CNCA Training Institute, and the “Canine Liability 360” classes. As Gordon Graham says, “We haven’t found new ways to get in trouble.” So, as the list progresses, you may or may not read something familiar to you that you have personally experienced or seen others encounter. If you encountered or heard about it, did you learn from it?