TOTD: Jan 12, cops and social media

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TOTD: Jan 12, cops and social media

Post by Timsup2nothin » Sat Jan 13, 2018 5:37 am

So there was a shooting in my neighborhood a couple nights ago. The shooter, as usual, had a badge. At this point it looks like the dead guy, as usual, didn't have a gun. But that is just too ordinary to make a topic, so let's talk about this...

The dead guy and his crew were getting chased because of an armed robbery at a store in a town several miles away across the desert. They got pit maneuvered and gunned down/chased down in my neighborhood, which prompted some snide asshole to comment about "East Palmdale." There's quite a bit of friction between my side of town and the more affluent side of town, and I'm as always in the thick of it so I challenged this guy, pointing out that since they were coming from Victorville than yeah they would get to the east side first, but what did that have to do with anything.

I was smugly informed "they were coming home." Two days later that might be proven true, as they have been identified as Palmdale residents, though they may or may not live on the east side based on current reporting. But, here's the thing...that asshole knew two days prior to the information being made public, almost certainly because a cop buddy told him, unless he himself is a cop.

Question: is cops releasing information that ends up on social media prior to it being released through the department's media office a serious issue?
Question: should social media companies be held responsible for instituting some sort of controls, like at least having a rule in place that 'inside information from law enforcement sources cannot be posted' or something?
Question: who do you think is the 'responsible party' in such situations, the poster or the cop?

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Re: TOTD: Jan 12, cops and social media

Post by Cutlass » Sat Jan 13, 2018 11:59 am

I've kind of had this long standing thought that the police shouldn't be releasing a lot of the information they release. "Bob has been arrested on murder charges" gets the headlines for days, and gets brought up from time to time for possibly years afterwards. "Charges against Bob were dropped for lack of evidence" barely gets a passing mention. The concept of innocent until proven guilty doesn't work in the court of public opinion.

So yeah, I don't think police should be talking about ongoing cases. It's unprofessional. Which, given our police, is pretty much just par for the course.

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Re: TOTD: Jan 12, cops and social media

Post by Catharsis » Sat Jan 13, 2018 2:19 pm

According to the policies I glanced at, police aren't supposed to release the names of the people they arrest expect in certain exceptional circumstances (public interest, etc.) over here. But there was a recent high-profile crime story here in London of a woman getting pushed under a bus (she survived). The police arrested a guy, presented it to the media as a slam-dunk, and then maybe a day later, confirmed that he was no longer being investigated because he'd proven he wasn't even in the country at the time. I guess it was seen to be in the public interest to release that name?

That said, it does seem like people increasingly feel it necessary to go to the media, or social media, to report a crime instead of (or as well as) the police. Sexual assault cases being the obvious example. There's an understandable lack of trust in the police in such cases. Innocent until proven guilty is all very well but it does rely on the police being willing, or able, to attempt to prove guilt, and in those cases it was necessary to introduce a paradigm shift through media noisemaking before they'd consider doing it.

That's all in response to Cutlass's post though. In response to the OP, yes irresponsible social media usage is something cops and similar services should take very seriously. Ideally treat it similar to insider dealing laws - if you know, or should reasonably suspect, that the information you are disseminating is significant, non-public insider info, it shouldn't matter if you are a primary source or secondary, you are responsible. So both the cop and the poster would be responsible.
Try to be the reason some guy receives a free fidget spinner.

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