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NYPD cops get schooled in social media

Gaffe no more: The NYPD is getting lessons in how to use Twitter.
By Gabrielle Levy   |   Sept. 4, 2014 at 1:58 PM   |   Comments

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WASHINGTON, Sept. 4 (UPI) -- The New York Police Department decided to give its officers a lesson in how to properly handle social media after a series of online blunders.

Precinct commanders will undergo Twittiquette training to learn to avoid gaffes, use social media to promote community efforts, and disseminate important information such as crime stats and wanted notices.

"They want us to put info like street closures or bus diversions because of a street fair. Also info like an accident-prone location or a picture of the cop of the month," a source to the New York Post. "Public information stuff."

A memo handed out to commanders at the first session at John Jay College was titled: "USE COMMON SENSE."

The lessons may not seem necessary to a digitally literate population, but NYPD officers have gotten into trouble with some thoughtless tweets.

One sent out a message on his personal Twitter account about a woman who died after falling onto subway tracks while using her iPad.

"Let me guess, driver's fault right?" Capt. Thomas Harnisch of Harlem wrote last month on his private account. When he was blasted for the comments, he wrote on the official 25th precinct Twitter: "Isn't that exactly what you do? Seize on a tragedy and assign culpability having no facts?"

Harnisch has since apologized.

And in April, the department's plan backfired when it tried to get members of the public to share photos of people interacting with cops and tag them #myNYPD. New Yorkers ended up sharing images of police brutality.

Police seemed to welcome the extra help.

"I think the training is a good idea. A lot of COs are a bit older, so they might not know how," a source explained. "They may not realize the power or the damage one wrong message can do."

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