Dallas police warned about social media use

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by REBECCA LOPEZ

Bio | Email | Follow: @rlopezwfaa

WFAA

Posted on September 27, 2010 at 11:21 PM

Updated Tuesday, Sep 28 at 10:30 AM

DALLAS — The Facebook phenomenon is a good way to keep up with friends, but Dallas police say it's time to keep up with its officers who go online.

"If you are identifying yourself in any way on your site as a police officer, then there shouldn't be inappropriate images placed on that site," explained Deputy Chief Randy Blankenbaker.

A Dallas officer had images of herself in a G-string on her site, and there were also crime scene photos that Dallas officers have placed on their Web sites.

"What we are doing here is trying to provide them with a framework so that they know what they should and shouldn't post in order to prevent them from getting into a position where their character as a police officer is questioned," Blankenbaker said.

Similar postings in other cities have led to officers being fired — like one in which scantily-clad women were on a squad car. The officer involved thought it was "cute."

His supervisors didn't agree, and therein lies the problem.

"We have we have to balance that with a sense they are in the public domain," Blankenbaker said.

Social media is a delicate balance between freedom of speech, private lives, and public jobs — and the Dallas Police Department hopes its new policy will tilt that balance towards credibility.

The main provision of the policy would forbid officers from taking pictures at crime scenes and then e-mailing them to each other.

Dallas police aren't against social media. The department has its own Facebook page that has more than 4,300 followers.

E-mail rlopez@wfaa.com

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