A lot of companies teach employees how to properly use Twitter, but the New York Police Department (NYPD) isn’t a company. That isn’t changing the fact that NYPD officers will be required to take Twitter courses, though.
As part of the Department’s “Social Outreach Program,” some officers will be required to complete Twitter training before posting on the social media site, according to the New York Post.
Why Training Is Necessary
Why do top NY police officers have to take a Twitter course? Namely because there have been some serious Twitter blunders made by police over the past few years. In one instance, a #myNYPD campaign backfired causing people that caught police doing unjust things to use the tag to post police brutality photos - instead of the “take a photo with a friendly neighborhood policeman” campaign that the department’s social media manager was aiming for.
In another incident, one police officer made some inappropriate comments aimed towards the Transportation Alternatives group (an activist group). So, now the department is handing out fliers to top police officers that also happen to be very social, and those fliers are reminding police to act responsibly while using Twitter.
What Police Are Learning
The NYPD has told police officers that the only information they can post is information pertaining to public works - like the shutting down of sidewalks or construction problems in the city. Officers have also been told not to divulge details about crime scenes on Twitter, and to think before posting something that might be seen as offensive or bothersome to the public.
Why isn’t the NYPD banning Twitter from official accounts outright? Because the department wants police to interact with citizens, it’s how police build trust, or so the story goes. Officers have been warned that not abiding by the new Twitter rules will result in reprimanding, though one has to wonder if you can control an entire police force on a site such as Twitter where pretty much anything goes.
What You Can See
If you want to learn about what’s happening in public space, or you want to take a look at some things like recent construction or traffic jams, theses are the kinds of things you’ll find if you follow NYPD Twitter accounts. While the courses do pertain to official NYPD accounts, the department has also told officers that they cannot post anything that would gain public distrust from personal accounts either.
As for the social media masterminds behind the #myNYPD campaign, well, there’s no word on what happened to those people. One can assume that they had to take a course too, or simply come up with another campaign to get people involved in the right way (if that’s possible). It’s hard not to see any NYPD Twitter campaign backfiring, though. Either way, the tweets you see from your friendly NYPD officers will be a lot more tame in the future.
The course are a good idea, but it’s somewhat laughable that these officers have to be told how to behave, isn’t it?