Philadelphia Police Department established a social-media policy

Philadelphia Police Department Directive 119, dated May 26, governs us of social media/social networking by sworn and unsworn members.

In part, it states, “It must be formally and universally recognized that the personal use of social media has the potential to impact the department as a whole, as well as individual members serving in their official capacity. As such, this policy provides information of a precautionary nature as well as prohibitions on the use of social media by department personnel.”

It’s the kind of directive that would come up in, say, the racy case of Officer Deona Carter. (More on her here.) While Commissioner Ramsey’s order wasn’t met with much fanfare, there was some behind-the-scenes chatter about both possible free-speech infringement (as in if would prohibit off-duty officers from posting about crime in the city and may well be unconstitutional should someone challenge it) and the sad reality that something had to be put on paper to keep co-workers from posing with their weaponry, etc.

Here’s the section governing the department’s personal use of social media (it’s all rather standard and/or commonsensical):

C. Personal Use of Social Media:

1. Personal use of social media is defined as engagement or participation in any personal social networking platform, including but not limited to, personally-owned sites, the sites of others (both known and unknown to the employee), news media pages, professional sites unaffiliated with the Philadelphia Police Department, or other information exchange forums.

2. In addition to the rules and regulations set forth in Section IV of this directive, the following provisions shall apply to personal use of social media while off-duty and using privately-owned property.

a. Employees shall neither express nor imply that they are;

– speaking or acting on behalf of the police department.

– representing or presenting the interests of the police department.

b. Employees shall not use their rank, title, or position in a manner that would suggest that they are representing the interests or official position of the police department.

c. Employees shall not post any depiction or illustration of the Official Seal of the City of Philadelphia, or the Philadelphia Police Department name, badge, logo, patch, or patrol vehicle, so as to give the appearance of an official site of the City of Philadelphia or the Philadelphia Police Department.

d. In addition to the above provisions, when engaging in personal use of social media, employees shall not post any text, photograph, audio, video, illustration, or any other multimedia file related to, or depicting, any of the following:

i. Current, past, or pending departmental investigation.

ii. Criminal or civil proceeding pertaining to or arising from any matter involving the department, including allegations of misconduct.

iii. Brandishing of any weaponry (city-owned or privately-owned; actual or simulated), or any contraband (actual or simulated).

iv. Brandishing of tactical instruments (both city-owned and privately-owned), including but not limited to firearm, ASP, baton, OC spray, Electronic Control Weapon (ECW), and mechanical restraints.

Here’s a link to Directive 119 in its entirety. [PDF]

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