BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) - Buffalo Police are drawing the line on what officers should post on the internet, specifically regarding social media.
The department issued a nine-page social media policy that all Buffalo Police employees will receive this week. Officers will be required to sign it to declare they know the rules.
Buffalo Police Commissioner Dan Derenda put the policy into effect immediately last Friday, titled "Social Media Model Policy." It explains that social media can be a valuable police tool, but cautions police personnel that although they are free to express themselves as private citizens, they are cautioned not to disclose their employment with the Buffalo Police Department.
Many Facebook users do post where they are employed, including one Buffalo Police officer whose page we found.
Police are now cautioned not to post their own picture on Facebook, and when it comes to undercover officers they "shall not" post their personal pictures, meaning that with this new policy, undercover officers are now prohibited from doing so.
Derenda would not comment about department's new policy. We have learned that it was modeled after the NY State Department of Criminal Justice guidelines, and that several other departments have already implemented it.
Buffalo Police Spokesman Mike DeGeorge says this was meant more to clarify and update policies of the past, and police brass explored just how to go about it for the past six months. Police wouldn't say what prompted the policy change or how many officers are using social media now.
Buffalo Police Union officials didn't return our calls seeking a comment on what they think of this. And the American Civil Liberties Union is also not taking a position on this because it only cautions against using personal pictures for most officers.
It is very difficult to gauge what officers think of this new policy that defines what they can and cannot do on their own computers. One officer we spoke with felt the rules are just common sense, but another thought the policy was too intrusive. But those are two opinions and there are around 700 Buffalo Police officers, so it's hard to say how the rank-and-file feel.
News 4 conducted a poll to see how our viewers felt. Forty-six percent felt Buffalo Police officers should be limited in what they can say on Facebook. The remaining 54 percent felt officers should be allowed to express themselves freely.
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