Discuss the Chesterfield County Police Department (Chesterfield County, Virginia).

The First Amendment is a right given to those in The United States but there are certain individuals whose first amendment rights do not necessarily apply to them, and police officers are one of them. The first amendment includes freedom of speech and government censorship (Nott & Peter, n.d.). Police departments strive to follow the First Amendment but with the diversity of the police department, it can be difficult to follow the First Amendment and have rules set in place, especially when it comes to social media. In an article, the difficulties of older and younger officers were mentioned. Older officers do not understand how privacy on social media works and younger officers tend to post anything and everything because that is what they are used to doing (The Ongoing Issue of Social Media Misconduct by Police Officers, 2020). This is why it can be challenging for police departments to find an even middle for what is permitted and prohibited without violating First Amendment rights.

Baltimore Police Department

The Baltimore Police Department has a detailed outline of what is expected from the officers. Baltimore officers a prohibited from misconduct online, posting confidential information, making comments on the behalf of the Baltimore police department, and not disclosing a Baltimore Police Department member’s status (Social Media, 2016). There is no difference between what an officer can post on or off duty. The officer is still required to post only what is permitted. The individual is permitted to post when they are off duty and social media cannot interfere with official duties. The agency does not directly indicate whether or not posting in uniform or in a police car is permitted but it was indicated that a police officer is prohibited from identifying themselves as a Baltimore Police officer (Social Media, 2016). This is because the police department wants to protect the privacy and safety of the members working in the Baltimore Police Department.

Overall, each of the aspects of the social media policy is useful in the aspect of safety and privacy of not only officers but members of the police department as well. The restrictions are necessary due to the fact that there are many officers with different opinions and views. It was mentioned that the Baltimore Police Department is one of the largest in the United States, setting them as the 8th largest (About, n.d.). When it comes to what an officer is permitted to post, the policy does need to be more detailed. The policy is very brief when it comes to what is permitted. The Baltimore Police Department does not go over posting in uniform or police cars. The better provision of each issue is the officer not identifying themselves as a Baltimore Police Officer. This provision helps avoid major safety issues as well as privacy.

The provisions of the policies are good, although they could be a little more in-depth. The Baltimore police department was very brief when it came to what is permitted and this can lead to officers asking many questions or not asking any questions at all and posting what they believe is okay as long as it does not violate the restrictions. The policy does need improvement, especially if there are a large number of officers working in the police department. In a reading by a Law Enforcement survey, it was mentioned that 60% of officers at an agency use social media to gather information for evidence (Law Enforcement and Technology, 2022). If Baltimore is also using this strategy, especially on duty then there needs to be stronger social media policies. With this being said, if social media is strongly involved in a police department, then First Amendment may not apply to officers, especially on duty.

Hingham Police Department

The Hingham Police Department does not have “strict” rules when it comes to social media but there are general safety restrictions. The Hingham Police Department restricts police officers from posting any type of inappropriate, harassing, and/or threatening comments (Social Media Policy, n.d.). Access will be denied if any of the following is violated. The Hingham Police Department also prohibits the posting of individuals that are not part of the police department. It is not stated whether or not there is a difference between what an individual can post on or off duty. The Hingham Police Department seems to have its policies focused on what individuals who are not part of the police department can post. Although the policy can be followed by police officers as well, the language seems more focused on the public, so there is no clear indication of what is permitted for officers. If an officer is going by the given policy, then an officer is permitted to post on social media as long as it does not violate the restrictions. The police department does not state if an officer can post in uniform or in a police car.

The provisions seem to be the bare minimum for each of the aspects of the policy and there is missing information for the last two aspects. The restrictions on comments are something common and many agencies besides police departments use this restriction. An example of an agency that uses this restriction is the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services. The department indicates no inappropriate comments such as racial, harassing, or threatening shall be used (Social Media Policies, n.d.). This is similar to the policy that Hingham Police Department has. Every agency has its own policies but specifically looking at the First Amendment, it is not being taken away because the First Amendment does protect hate speech to a certain degree as long as it is not threatening or criminal (Hate Speech and Hate Crime, n.d.). The policy that has the better provision is the policy that indicates that no one is allowed to post an individual who is not part of the Hingham Police Department on their social media platforms. This is a good provision to have because it avoids liability and privacy issues.

The provisions of the policies are not the best and need improvement. As mentioned before, the policy language is focused on individuals that are not part of the police department and this can cause problems for officers because they would not know what is specifically permitted and prohibited to them. This policy can be fixed by outlining exactly what an officer is permitted to do and what is prohibited such as wearing the uniform on social media or posting comments about where they work. While focusing on the current policy the police department has, they do seem to do a good job of monitoring social media, especially in the Hingham area. The police department was able to look on search on social media and find out about a school shooting threat (O’Loughlin, n.d.). The police officers were able to stay on top of this issue and because of the social media monitoring, they were able to prevent anything serious from happening. I believe that because the policies are taken into consideration that is something police officers looked for in not only their own police pages but the individuals of the cities’ social media accounts. It is examples like these that show the strengths of the current policy.

References:

About. Baltimore Police Department. (n.d.). Retrieved from

Hate Speech and Hate Crime. American Library Association. (2017, December 12). Retrieved from

Law Enforcement and Technology: Using Social Media. (2022, January 11). Retrieved from

Nott, L., & Peter, B. (n.d.). Free speech on Social Media: The Complete Guide. Freedom Forum. Retrieved from

O’Loughlin, F. (2021, December 9). Hingham police investigating social media post that references past school shooting threat. Boston News, Weather, Sports | WHDH 7News. Retrieved from

Social Media. Baltimore Police Department. (2016, July 1). Retrieved from

Social Media Policies. HHS.gov. (n.d.). Retrieved from

Social Media Policy. Hingham Police Department. (n.d.). Retrieved from

The Ongoing Issue of Social Media Misconduct by Police Officers. Spectrum News 1. (2020, October 21). Retrieved from

Answer & Explanation
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The First Amendment is a right given to those in The United States but there are certain individuals whose first amendment rights do not necessarily apply to them, and police officers are one of them. The first amendment includes freedom of speech and government censorship (Nott & Peter, n.d.). Police departments strive to follow the First Amendment but with the diversity of the police department, it can be difficult to follow the First Amendment and have rules set in place, especially when it comes to social media. In an article, the difficulties of older and younger officers were mentioned. Older officers do not understand how privacy on social media works and younger officers tend to post anything and everything because that is what they are used to doing (The Ongoing Issue of Social Media Misconduct by Police Officers, 2020). This is why it can be challenging for police departments to find an even middle for what is permitted and prohibited without violating First Amendment rights.

Baltimore Police Department

The Baltimore Police Department has a detailed outline of what is expected from the officers. Baltimore officers a prohibited from misconduct online, posting confidential information, making comments on the behalf of the Baltimore police department, and not disclosing a Baltimore Police Department member’s status (Social Media, 2016). There is no difference between what an officer can post on or off duty. The officer is still required to post only what is permitted. The individual is permitted to post when they are off duty and social media cannot interfere with official duties. The agency does not directly indicate whether or not posting in uniform or in a police car is permitted but it was indicated that a police officer is prohibited from identifying t

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hemselves as a Baltimore Police officer (Social Media, 2016). This is because the police department wants to protect the privacy and safety of the members working in the Baltimore Police Department.

Overall, each of the aspects of the social media policy is useful in the aspect of safety and privacy of not only officers but members of the police department as well. The restrictions are necessary due to the fact that there are many officers with different opinions and views. It was mentioned that the Baltimore Police Department is one of the largest in the United States, setting them as the 8th largest (About, n.d.). When it comes to what an officer is permitted to post, the policy does need to be more detailed. The policy is very brief when it comes to what is permitted. The Baltimore Police Department does not go over posting in uniform or police cars. The better provision of each issue is the officer not identifying themselves as a Baltimore Police Officer. This provision helps avoid major safety issues as well as privacy.

The provisions of the policies are good, although they could be a little more in-depth. The Baltimore police department was very brief when it came to what is permitted and this can lead to officers asking many questions or not asking any questions at all and posting what they believe is okay as long as it does not violate the restrictions. The policy does need improvement, especially if there are a large number of officers working in the police department. In a reading by a Law Enforcement survey, it was mentioned that 60% of officers at an agency use social media to gather information for evidence (Law Enforcement and Technology, 2022). If Baltimore is also using this strategy, especially on duty then there needs to be stronger social media policies. With this being said, if social media is strongly involved in a police department, then First Amendment may not apply to officers, especially on duty.

Hingham Police Department

The Hingham Police Department does not have “strict” rules when it comes to social media but there are general safety restrictions. The Hingham Police Department restricts police officers from posting any type of inappropriate, harassing, and/or threatening comments (Social Media Policy, n.d.). Access will be denied if any of the following is violated. The Hingham Police Department also prohibits the posting of individuals that are not part of the police department. It is not stated whether or not there is a difference between what an individual can post on or off duty. The Hingham Police Department seems to have its policies focused on what individuals who are not part of the police department can post. Although the policy can be followed by police officers as well, the language seems more focused on the public, so there is no clear indication of what is permitted for officers. If an officer is going by the given policy, then an officer is permitted to post on social media as long as it does not violate the restrictions. The police department does not state if an officer can post in uniform or in a police car.

The provisions seem to be the bare minimum for each of the aspects of the policy and there is missing information for the last two aspects. The restrictions on comments are something common and many agencies besides police departments use this restriction. An example of an agency that uses this restriction is the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services. The department indicates no inappropriate comments such as racial, harassing, or threatening shall be used (Social

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