Badge, gun, social media policy: Philly cops now have all three

Thumbnail image for police.jpgPhiladelphia Police Department has enacted a social media policy. You can view it here.

A couple of noteworthy points about this policy:

  • It recognizes that social media plays an important “business” role within the Department. The Department gets it by endorsing the “secure use of social media to enhance communication, collaboration, and information exchange; streamline processes; and foster productivity.”
  • Employees may not use City property to engage in personal social networking activities. That includes cellphones, laptops and other portable devices that may be used outside of the office. In fact, employees may not even use social media on their own electronic devices while on duty.
  • The policy underscores that there is no reasonable expectation of privacy when engaging in social networking online. As such, the content of social networking websites may be obtained for use in criminal trials, civil proceedings, and departmental investigations.
  • Employees must get prior consent before engaging in Department-authorized use of social media. This is defined as the employment of such instruments for the specific purpose of assisting the department and its personnel in community outreach, problem-solving, investigation, crime prevention, and other department-related objectives. The PPD is unionized and, as you know from reading this blog, the National Labor Relations Board has taken an aggressive approach against employers who enact policies that may chill union-related speech. On its face, this rule appears to be designed as a safety measure, rather than a means to quell discussion about terms and conditions of employment. Plus, the Fraternal Order of Police, as public sector employees, would not be covered under the NLRA. Still, the policy lacks any explicit mention of the right to engage in protected-speech. 

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