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Police forces embrace social media, with bizarre results
Stop, frisk, and tweet.
Stop, frisk, and tweet.
Why do police forces invest so heavily in social media? Even they’re not sure.
First, police started sending cops to Twitter school. Then they began forcing high-ranking officers to post casual daily updates about their communities. Then came the online backlash after the NYPD’s Thank a Police Officer Day.
At a recent NATO summit in Wales, this fad rose to a degree in which policemen had to pretend to be more than polite and social-media-enabled to a virtually empty city. No one cared. It’s easy to pretend you’re down with the selfies until there’s a riot.
Video by William Pine
These official accounts are often deserted a few hours before the event shuts down, forever lingering on the cache. The last (Welsh) signs of action on the @NATOWalesPolice account were on Sept. 8:
Dyna’r cyfan oddi wrth y tim, gobeithio fod y trydar wedi bod o ddiddordeb. Daliwch i ddilyn i weld be sy’n digwydd nesa… Hwyl am y tro
— NATO Wales Police (@NATOWalesPolice) September 6, 2014
They retweeted a few local enthusiasts before officially dying down. Eerie:
— Rhodri Kendall (@Rhod_Kendall) September 6, 2014
— SW Police West (@swpwest) September 8, 2014
1.4 million people in the U.K. may follow police Twitter accounts, but it’s not all fun and games: Last week, the award-winning tweetstar Inspector Michael Brown had his account suspended after “allegations of inappropriate use of direct messaging and social media.”
Across the pond, the NYPD of course has its own fair share of this type of procrasturbation:
PO Gonzalez#PSA6 conducting community service, playing a little game of 1 on 1 basketball with young Foley. pic.twitter.com/tjpSQxeIDr
— NYPD Housing PSA 6 (@NYPDPSA6) September 13, 2014
Then, inevitably, this happened.
Suspected Harlem muggers accidentally send selfies to NYPD using stolen phone: http://t.co/r16TjRlPng
— Metro New York (@metronewyork) February 6, 2014
It’s silly. It’s chaotic. Police do not need social media presences. It’s a level of engagement and branding that is completely unnecessary. Twitter might even benefit from losing those wildly inaccurate police scanner accounts.
Photo via Nimrod Kamer/YouTube | Remix by Rob Price
Nimrod Kamer is a journalist and satirist based in the U.K. whose work has appeared in the GQ, Vice, Wired, the Guardian and Huffington Post, as well as on BBC Newsnight. He is the author of The Social Climber's Handbook: A Shameless Guide.