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Rye Police Consider Guidelines On Social Media Use

The Rye Police Department is working to establish guidelines in case it wants to branch out to social media sites such as Facebook.
The Rye Police Department is working to establish guidelines in case it wants to branch out to social media sites such as Facebook. Photo Credit: Facebook.com

RYE, N.Y. -- The Rye Police Department is considering branching out to social media and is working to create guidelines on what officers may or may not post on their personal social media profiles.

The Rye Police Department does not currently have a presence on any social media sites. Commissioner William Connors wants to establish a policy in case the department does decide to use social media in the future.

"It’s not designed to promote the use of social media. I’m not personally a big fan of social media, but the social media trend is the future," Connors said. "We need to be prepared to explore and get ready to jump into anything that may be helpful to us."

Social media sites such as Facebook and Twitter could be used to send information to the public, such as road closures, weather emergencies or alerts about missing and endangered persons. It can also be used to gather information from the public, such as crime tips. All social media sites would have to be approved by the commissioner, and any use or information sent out would have to be sanctioned by the department.

The department is also looking to set guidelines on how officers can use their personal social media profiles. Connors said it wants to make sure that officers do not post anything that will get them in trouble, embarrass the department or town, or potentially jeopardize a case.

"We try to guarantee that employees are free to express themselves as citizens, but public employees do have a slightly different set of obligations and expectations," he said. They would not be allowed to post obscene or discriminatory language, photos or acts. They would also be discouraged from promoting reckless or irresponsible behavior, or anything that could undermine an officer's testimony in a criminal case.

The City Council will review the policy over its next couple of meetings and will likely vote on it at its June meeting.

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