A reminder to patrol your social networking pages

Following the chaotic first few hours of the Fort Hood attack, initial reports poured in that Sgt. Kimberly Munley was the officer who had shot Maj. Nidal Malik Hasan. Moments later, all the news networks were scrambling to find out anything they could about her.

The photo that soon popped up on every cable news network show and major newspaper Web site (as well as on PoliceOne) was attributed to her “profile” on the Twitter social networking service.

PoliceOne Contributor Shawn Hughes sent us an e-mail within which there is an excellent tech tip.

“I’m watching CNN headline news. The Officer they are saying ended the situation is being profiled. They seem to be digging for anything they can say or offer about the Officer; that’s common. What is significant, though, they are showing her Twitter page, her picture from her eBay profile, and got their personal information about her from what appears to be her entry in the resume service hireahero.com. There has been a lot of discussion on social sites coming back to bite you in the ass. If had she a picture of herself with a beer can and pointing a patrol rifle, wonder what they would be saying about her instead of her being a ‘hero?’ I’m not saying those kind of pics are bad. They are a rite of passage and 99 percent of Officers have at least one. But, yesterday at this time, this officer was wondering what was for dinner that night. Now, transnational news media are scrutinizing (in heavy rotation) what she’s been ‘Tweeting.’ I’m not giving up my Facebook page, but I am definitely going to go look at what I have up with a very, very critical eye here in about a minute.”

Lt. Col. Dave Grossman puts it this way in a gem of wisdom buried deep in the Appendix of On Combat: “If I do what I am considering, would I want my family to know about it?”  Too many times in the past 12 months there have been reports that officers have been disciplined (and demonized in their local papers) for images and comments made on their personal social networking pages.  Remember, while those pages are “your space” they are also visible to anyone savvy enought to surf the Internet. 

For an excellent list of other do’s and don’t for cops on Internet social networks, check out this recent article by Dr. Richard Weinblatt.

About the author

Doug Wyllie is Editor at Large for PoliceOne, responsible for providing police training content and expert analysis on a wide range of topics and trends that affect the law enforcement community. An award-winning columnist — he is the 2014 Western Publishing Association "Maggie Award" winner in the category of Best Regularly Featured Digital Edition Column — Doug has authored more than 900 feature articles and tactical tips. Doug is also responsible for planning and recording the PoliceOne Podcast, Policing Matters, as well as being the on-air host for PoliceOne Video interviews. Doug also works closely with the PoliceOne Academy to develop training designed to prepare cops for the fight they face every day on the street.

Doug regularly represents PoliceOne as a public speaker in a variety of forums and is available for media interviews — he has appeared on numerous local and national radio and television news programs, and has been quoted in a host of print publications. 

Doug is a member of International Law Enforcement Educators and Trainers Association (ILEETA), an Associate Member of the California Peace Officers' Association (CPOA), and a member of the Public Safety Writers Association (PSWA).

Contact Doug Wyllie

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