By Rocco Parascandola AND Bill Hutchinson / NEW YORK DAILY NEWS
Published: Wednesday, March 27, 2013, 8:09 PM
Updated: Thursday, March 28, 2013, 2:00 AM
The new policy serves as a reminder to officers that their social media activity could 'undermine their credibility,' and officers caught violating the order could face disciplinary action, including termination, according to an internal memo.
New York's top cop has added social media sheriff to his duties.
Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly has issued the NYPD’s first marching orders governing what his 35,000 officers can and cannot post on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and any other site on the wild online frontier.
The tough new edict bans the creation of any site by precincts or units, and sternly warns individual cops “not to disclose or allude to their status as members of the department” on the Internet.
“Members of the service should be aware that activities on personal social media sites may be used against them to undermine their credibility as members of the department,” reads the three-page internal order obtained by the Daily News.
Any officer caught violating the order faces disciplinary action, including termination, according to the memo issued Monday.
“Members of the service utilizing personal social media sites are to exercise good judgement and demonstrate the same degree of professionalism expected of them while performing their official duties,” the order reads.
Cops are even prohibited from posting photos of themselves in uniform, unless at official ceremonies.
While the nation’s largest police force has used social media to foil gang warfare, intercept terrorist plots and bust criminals bragging about their exploits, it has also been a two-edged sword.
Seventeen cops were disciplined in August for posting racist and offensive comments on a Facebook page called “No More West Indian Day Detail.” Within the 150 comments posted, some referred to revelers “savages” and “animals.”
Capt. Jeffrey Schiff, commanding officer of the 76th Precinct in Brooklyn, recently left the department vulnerable to litigation by tweeting the names and mug shots of paroled convicts.
Last August, 17 cops were disciplined for posting racist and offensive comments on a Facebook page called “No More West Indian Day Detail.” About 150 comments were posted — some calling revelers “savages” and “animals.” Investigators found that about 20 of the people who posted matched the names of NYPD officers.
Then there were the whacked-out postings of so-called “Cannibal Cop” Gilberto Valle, who expressed his desires on fetish sites to kidnap and eat women. Robert Gonzalez, a police training expert at John Jay College, said the order reeked of “unauthorized censorship.”
“Members of the NYPD are proud public officials and should be authorized to express that right on social media sites without retribution,” he said.
Edward Mullins, head of the Sergeants Benevolent Association, supported the order.
“We have to be held to a higher standard,” Mullins said.
The policy comes after the FDNY had to discipline two members, including Fire Commissioner Salvatore Cassano’s son, for posting racist tweets.
FDNY spokesman Jim Long said Wednesday that the Fire Department was in the process of amending its code of conduct guidelines to include rules governing social media.
“It’s going to take a closer look at social media — what’s appropriate, what’s prohibited — and address it correctly,” Long said.