PoliceLink Feedback & Feature Requests >> From the Desk of TheSarge >> Termination? ... You might want to read this one.

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Termination? ... You might want to read this one.

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Just_passin__thru_max50

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Reviewed: 1-24-11: This issue has been surfacing more and more. Please, please read the article. It could mean your career ! It is still valid.


(I found this article today and thought I would pass it on to you. I know it is a little long, but it is very much worth reading. Think also in terms of comments you put on people's pictures as well as the content of this article. I highlighted some areas of high interest.)


Social Networking


by Michael Rains and Ellen Rosenbluth


It probably comes as no surprise to anyone in this computer age that anything you post online, including on Facebook, Twitter, or other social networking sites, may be open for viewing by anyone, including your employer, and can expose you to punitive action. This is especially true for peace officers who are held to higher standards of conduct than other public employees.


It goes without saying that every peace officer is expected to adhere to established departmental policies, procedures, and manuals. Similar to any other action described in a policy, procedure, or manual, you may be disciplined, up to and including termination, for a violation of a policy addressing social networking. Every peace officer is responsible for knowing what policies exist and for following them.


For instance, many departments have a policy forbidding “gun glorification.” Our firm has represented clients who, without regard for these policies, have posted pictures of themselves holding guns on sites such as Facebook.


In some of these cases, peace officers who included pictures of themselves engaged in lawful work-related activities, such as firing duty weapons at a gun range have not been subjected to punitive action. However, those who aimed a gun at the camera or who posed with weaponry, either with another officer or a civilian, have faced discipline, sometimes termination.


While this type of conduct should be addressed by specific policies, in the absence of those writings, photographs posted on the internet can be interpreted by the employer as inappropriate or too aggressive and subject the officer to punitive action under the general banner of “conduct unbecoming,”


In August 2009, in Midland, Texas, one county deputy was fired, and three others were suspended, after taking pictures of a scantily dressed waitress holding a rifle on the hood of a patrol vehicle.The department noted that this incident was especially problematic because the pictures were posted on the Internet and “seen by everyone.”


On May 30, 2006, the United States Supreme Court confirmed in Garcetti v. Ceballos (2006) 547 U.S. 410, that while police officers retain some possibility of First Amendment rights regarding public statements made outside of the course of performing official duties, they have no First Amendment right to make statements pursuant to their official duties.


When speaking on matters outside of the course of official duties, the officer must be discussing a “matter of public concern” (i.e., waste of public funds) to be protected, but still runs the risk of discipline if the speech disrupts the efficient operation of the department.


What does this mean about peace officers’ use of social networking sites? Choose your comments carefully. You should not disparage your agency, supervisors, or co-workers on a social networking site.


You should not discuss anything involving your official duties. You should not post anything which will affect how the public sees the department.


When in doubt, DO NOT post! A social networking site is not the place to express your anger. Assume that the posting will be read by every member of the department.


It is probably a bad idea for you to post pictures of yourself partying and/or drinking alcohol. In one case, an officer was disciplined for posting a picture which the department deemed to be contrary to the professional image a police officer should maintain. Another officer found himself in trouble when his picture contained persons who were minors in possession of alcohol.


A gray area arises when an officer maintains a social networking site, but does not identify himself/herself as an officer on the site. If the officer is speaking solely as an individual, he/she should be afforded First Amendment protections.


However, because anything the officer posts can be forwarded by another person, and that other person might attribute the post to “Officer” Jones, the better approach to take is to avoid posting material which might be characterized as bringing the officer and/or the agency into disrepute.


We know that criminal defense attorneys have begun searching social networking sites to look for information they can use against officers in legal proceedings. Comments that imply that an officer has used force on someone, especially certain groups of people, are being introduced to show that the officer has a predisposition or bias against defendants. Assume that defense attorneys will produce your postings during legal proceedings to discredit you.


Civil lawsuits seeking monetary damages alleging defamation are also being filed against individuals based solely on comments made on social networking sites. Because it is so easy to post on a social networking site at any time of the day or night, people often post something in the heat of the moment that they otherwise would not say after they had time to reflect. It is, of course, important to think about consequences before posting.


Some believe that they are protecting themselves from liability by requiring a password before anyone can read posts on a social networking site. Unfortunately, password-protected sites may still be accessible to those you do not wish to visit.


Recently, one of the authors of this article “Googled” a website which required a password to enter. We were able to gain access to one of the directories of the site (although not the home page), where we accessed information which was allegedly protected.


In addition, if you allow someone access to your site, that person may in turn forward the information to someone who doesn’t have your password and thereby gains access. Once the information is forwarded, it is there for all to see.


If you choose to post on social networking sites, be sure to restrict your personal information. You do not want a member of the general public with a grudge against you to know the identity of family members, where you live, or to have your personal phone number.


On a positive note, many employers and others look to social networking sites to discover information about you. Highlight your accomplishments and advanced training. Think of your site as an electronic resume.


Don’t fall into the trap of letting what feels like a little bit of fun online ruin your professional career. Follow what we call the Golden Rule of social networking: If you don’t want your department to see what you’re posting, don’t post it.

 


The Guy !
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1asteriskshield_ezr_max50

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Excellent post. Remember the professionalism of the office that we have been entrusted with.


You can't cure stupid.

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Uni1_max50

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When asked about carrying in Church..

"I work in God's office as an environmental cop. If God doesn't mind me carrying in the office I don't see a problem with carrying in any of His houses"

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BIG BUMP

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Sarge,


   Thanks for the excellent article. I have passed it along to over 50 members who are currently working in my old department. Hopefully, they too will forward it to the younger cops too.

Just_passin__thru_max50

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_RetiredCop_ says ...



Sarge,


   Thanks for the excellent article. I have passed it along to over 50 members who are currently working in my old department. Hopefully, they too will forward it to the younger cops too.


+++++++++++++++


Welcome !



The Guy !
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While one person hesitates because he feels inferior, the other is busy making mistakes and becoming superior.

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BUMP


"Service, justice, fundamental fairness-these are the foundational principles in which every police action must be grounded. The nobility of policing demands the noblest of character. "
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200px-flag_of_the_united_states_svg_max50

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Sgt.


Great post


About one year ago I posted the following forums....


http://policelink.monster.com/topics/27832-crime-and-the-internet/posts


http://policelink.monster.com/topics/25638-leos-and-family-photographs/posts

Th_detective_max50

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Take heed LEO Warriors, this message has been drilled into us here at PoliceLink since its inception yet we continue to see the same  problematic type of posts far too frequently.  If you wouldn't say or do it as you walked down Main Street in the middle of the 4th of July parade then don't say or do it here (the crowd watching you here may be larger than the one on Main Street, and some of their intentions are not as honorable as you might think!).  Great article and a very good reminder to us all!


BUMP


"Be a yardstick of quality. Some people aren't used to an environment where excellence is expected."
Steve Jobs

Retleo (MODERATOR #8)
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ShockUSMC87 says ...



Ive considered from time to time and still do about deleting my PL account and then maybe starting a new one, cause as a young Marine and non-LEO I have said some less than flattering things and I think Im at like 5000 posts now and I have lost track after 200 of what they have contained.


This social networking shit does scare me though cause PDs are takin it very serious and I dont need that as a rookie. I deleted myspace and facebook....those sites are nothing but trouble.



I worked in an extremely competitive department, especially when it came to promotional testing. I was more concerned with the cops I worked with hurting me more than I was the criminal on the street. Just a word to the wise from an old timer, there are guys out there that will use this crap against you. As a veteran, I can only say "watch you six at all times!"

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BUMP


"Ladies and Gentlemen, take my advice. Pull down your pants and slide on the ice."~~~~ Allan Arbus, (MASH, Sidney Freedman)

Quando Omni Flunkus Moritati..... When All Else Fails, Play Dead~~~ Red Green....

When you get to the end of your rope, tie a knot and hang on!" (Franklin D Roosevelt).

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Ferret_max50

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Good post! And it all holds true! BUMP!!! 


The integrity of your word is its greatest respect! - "Talon"

Dcp01604_max50

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As usual a great post. 

Sg_max50

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Good post. Its easy to get carried away at times. This is a good reminder. I have often noticed that I get buddy buddy with people too fast and thus, I must be extra careful. You guys/gals just make it so easy...........stay good.

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BUMP!BUMP!!

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Big BUMP   I've read that credit card companies are now looking at peoples' Facebook pages to see who they socialize with and what they post to make financial decisions for anyone trying to get a loan. 


The glory of young men is their strength: and the beauty of old men is the grey head
- Proverbs 20:29

Nemo me impune lacessit

YaYa SuzieQ

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NEVER GIVE UP, NEVER GIVE IN, AND ALWAYS FIGHT!!!!!!!!!!!!PL Mentoring Team Member

45089_396847393722850_1055776862_n_max50

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Sorry if I strayed away from the main subject matter.  Employers are definitely searching the internet for anything on potential employees or anyone already employed that could determine if you get the job or if your job is at risk for what you post on the internet.


 


SuzanneNGa says ...



Big BUMP   I've read that credit card companies are now looking at peoples' Facebook pages to see who they socialize with and what they post to make financial decisions for anyone trying to get a loan. 



The glory of young men is their strength: and the beauty of old men is the grey head
- Proverbs 20:29

Nemo me impune lacessit

YaYa SuzieQ

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damn skippy!


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BUMP!!!


Have ASP will travel.

Justice is the one thing you should always find, you gotta saddle up your boys you gotta draw a hard line.

When the gun smoke settles we'll sing a victory tune and we'll all meet back at the local saloon.

And we'll raise up our glasses against evil forces singing whiskey for my men beer for my horses.

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B  U  M  P!!!!!!!!!!!!


PL Mentoring Team Member
Honor The Fallen, Strive never to have your name put on the wall
"Fear is an instinct. Courage is a choice."
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This should be our golden rule to follow.  I have seen many, many comments on photographs posted here that will surely come back to haunt the person who posted the comments.  This article not only applies to PL, but facebook and myspace accounts. 


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