Last time the New York City Police Department attempted to do some image-softening via social media — remember #myNYPD? — its warm and fuzzy hashtag became a depository for pictures of police brutality. That was just practice, apparently. Lesson learned (?), the NYPD will soon give Twitter accounts to all precinct commanders, DNA Info reports, while Commissioner Bill Bratton, who already has one of his own, plans to start a blog. Social media, the department’s deputy commissioner for strategic initiatives says, is a “must-have tool for law enforcement,” and not just for Facebook-stalking stupid criminals.
The NYPD has seen some “community outreach” success with its Facebook page, which is mostly anodyne back-patting, complete with pictures of happy officers, cute babies, and, recently, fireworks. It has more than 250,000 “likes.”
Twitter tends to be a less forgiving, meaner medium with more potential for trolling or royally screwing up. Of the #myNYPD debacle, police social-media guru Zachary Tumin, “who has been tweeting since 2008,” said it happens. “There are many people out there who have formed opinions and if you ask them for them, they are going to share them,” he told DNA Info. “What’s most important is to pick yourself up, dust yourself off and get back to it the next day.”
And if all else fails, copy the CIA, another less-than-loved organization, and just spew vapid, lowest-common-denominator nonsense to keep people distracted.