For years, police forces have struggled with deflecting and diffusing the overly sensationalistic media stories surrounding police brutality, or officer misconduct. Now, they’ve provided anybody with a mobile phone a voice to share unpopular police issues (past and present) from around the World.
When the NYPD attracted unwanted attention back in 2012, stemming from an officer’s questionable use of Twitter, the department imposed strict sanctions and limited police force tweeting to a single, official account. Their plan was to control the flow of social messaging to the public until they had a well-devised strategy that not only informed the public, but also helped to evangelize the “brand” of the NYPD, the world’s most famous police force.
The new NYPD Commish, William Bratton, is jumping back into social media with guns blazing. The plan to connect the police force with its citizens in an informal manner via social media is a good. However, the implementation is worthy of a SWAT team take down. Having anonymous users tag unfiltered photos #myNYPD to the official NYPD Instagram account is equivalent of opening up all of the cell doors on Riker’s. The account was immediately flooded with thousands of posts, calling attention to almost every unpopular police measure from the last few years, ranging from “stop and frisk” to Occupy Wall Street.
The force would be wise to reconsider its channel of choice and pick a means that affords them more control. Perhaps a blog would be a better spot for NYPD SM HQ, and afford them a means to filter submitted images. Often people complain about social media restrictions and filters, however I have feeling if the NYPD wanted to slap the cuffs on some of the incoming messaging, the public would more than understand.
Source: New York Times, Despite Twitter Backlash, New York Police Dept. Plans to Expand Social Media Efforts. 4.27.14