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HOLYOKE POLICE DEPARTMENT

STANDING OPERATING PROCEDURE


SUBJECT: ESTABLISHING A POLICY FOR EMPLOYEE USE OF SOCIAL MEDIA

NUMBER: EFFECTIVE DATE: REVISION DATE:


10.1.2 April 1, 2015 April 1, 2015

I. Introductory Discussion
A. Professionalism, ethics, and integrity are of paramount importance in the law
enforcement community. To achieve and maintain the publics highest level of respect,
we must place reasonable restrictions on our conduct and appearance, as well as holding
employees to these standards of conduct, whether on or off-duty. An employees action(s)
must never bring the department into disrepute, nor should conduct be detrimental to the
departments efficient operation.
B. The developments in electronic technology (computers, software, programs, and
information available through the internet and web sites) are an invaluable resource to
assist us in the performance of our duties. Nevertheless, this technology has the capability
to act as a double-edged sword, in that it presents opportunities to access and use
technology in both legitimate and illegitimate ways. Whether on duty or off duty, in
uniform or in plain clothes, all employees represent the Holyoke Police Department.
II. PURPOSE

A. The purpose is to establish departmental policy concerning personal web pages or


internet sites when referencing the Holyoke Police Department. Furthermore, it is
to ensure that employees use appropriate discretion in the use of references to the
Holyoke Police Department, so as to not discredit or disrespect the department, to
ensure that the release (directly or indirectly) of information concerning crimes,
accidents, or violations of ordinances or statutes to persons outside the department is
not disseminated, and to ensure that all employees treat as confidential the official
business of the department. This policy is not intended to hinder the
professional development of any employee. The purpose is to ensure personal use of
social media by Holyoke Police employees does not reflect poorly upon the department
and complies with the rules and regulations.

B. This policy provides guidance for employee use of social media, which should be broadly
understood for purposes of this policy to include blogs, wikis, microblogs, message
boards, chat rooms, electronic newsletters, online forums, social networking sites, and
other sites and services that permit users to share information with others in a
contemporaneous manner.

III. CANCELLATION
This policy shall supersede, amend, modify and/or cancel all Rules, Regulations, Policies, Orders,
and Procedures currently in effect dealing with this specific topic.

IV. EFFECTIVE DATE


This policys start date became effective on April 1, 2015, with an implementation
date of May 1, 2015, and shall remain in effect until amended, modified and/or
rescinded by the Chief of Police.

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V. DEFINITIONS
A. Social Media Channels - Blogs, micro-blogs, wikis, social networks, social bookmarking
services, user rating services and any other online collaboration, sharing or publishing
platform, whether accessed through the web, a mobile device, text messaging, email or
any other existing or emerging communications platform.

B. Social Media Account A personalized presence inside a social networking channel,


initiated at will by an individual. YouTube, Twitter, Facebook and other social networking
channels allow users to sign-up for their own social media account, which they can use to
collaborate, interact and share content and status updates. When a user communicates
through a social media account, their disclosures are attributed to their User Profile.

C. Social Media Disclosures - Blog posts, blog comments, status updates, text messages,
posts via email, images, audio recordings, video recordings or any other information made
available through a social media channel. Social media disclosures are the actual
communications a user distributes through a social media channel, usually by means of
any social media account.

D. User Profile Social Media Account holders customize their User Profile within a Social
Media Channel

E. Hosted Content Text, pictures, audio, video or other information in digital form that is
uploaded and resides in the social media account of the author of a social media
disclosure . If you download content off of the Internet, and then upload it to your social
media account, you are hosting that content. This distinction is important because it is
generally illegal to host copyrighted content publicly on the Internet without first
obtaining the permission of the copyright owner.

F. Controversial Issues Issues that form the basis of heated debate, often identified in
political campaigns as wedge issues, since they provoke a strong emotional response.
Examples include political views, health care reform, gun control and abortion. Religious
beliefs may also be controversial, particularly to those intolerant of beliefs different
from their own.

G. Official Content Publicly available online content created and made public by the
Holyoke Police department, verified by virtue of the fact that it is accessible through our
City website or our Facebook account.

VI. OBJECTIVES OF THIS POLICY

A. Establish practical, reasonable and enforceable guidelines by which our employees can
conduct responsible, constructive social media engagement in both official and unofficial
capacities.

B. Promote a safe environment for employees to share subject matter.

C. Prepare our agency and employees to utilize social media channels to help each other and
the community we serve, particularly in the event of a crisis, disaster or emergency.

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D. Protect our company and employees from violating Municipal, State or Federal rules,
regulations or laws through social media channels.

VII. GUIDING PRINCIPALS

A. Photographs or other depictions of departmental uniforms, badges, patches, marked units,


other departmental property or on-duty personnel, including incident scenes, shall not be
posted on internet sites by department personnel without the approval of the Chief of Police.
B. Employees are prohibited from posting, transmitting, and/or disseminating any pictures or
videos of official departmental training, activities, or work-related assignments, without the
expressed, permission of the Chief of Police.

C. Employees shall treat as confidential, all the official business of the department.

D. No employee shall release, either directly or indirectly, information concerning crimes,


accidents, or violations of ordinances and/or statutes to persons outside the department,
except as authorized by departmental policy under Public Information Function.
E. No employee should gossip about the affairs of the department with persons outside the
department.
F. No sexual, violent, racial, ethnically derogatory material, comments, pictures, artwork,
video, or other reference may be posted along with any department approved reference.
G. Employees shall not post any material on the internet that brings discredit to or may
adversely affect the efficiency or integrity of the Holyoke Police Department. In addition,
no employee shall use the internet in any way, shape, or form in order to disparage or harass
another department or city employee, as well as any other citizen.

H. Employees should consider the possible adverse consequences of internet postings, such as
future employment, cross-examination in criminal cases, and public, as well as private,
embarrassment.

I. Employees are reminded to exercise good judgment and demonstrate personal


accountability when choosing to participate on social networking sites such as Facebook,
MySpace, Twitter, etc. Use of these types of sites while on duty shall be restricted to official
departmental business only.

J. The Holyoke Police department trusts and expects employees to exercise personal
responsibility whenever they use social media, which includes not violating the trust of
those with whom they are engaging. If and when authorized employees use social media to
communicate on behalf of the Holyoke Police department, they should clearly identify
themselves as employees.

K. Only those officially designated by the Chief of Police can use social media to speak on
behalf of the Holyoke Police department in an official capacity, though employees may use
social media to speak for themselves individually or to exercise their legal rights under
the National Labor Relations Act.

L. Employees are responsible for making sure that their online activities do not interfere with
their ability to fulfill their job requirements or their commitments to their supervisors,
co-workers or citizens.
To Protect and To Serve
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VIII. RESPECTFULNESS

A. Employees should always be respectful of every individuals legal right to express their
opinions, whether those opinions are complimentary or critical. The Holyoke Police
department recognizes and appreciates the rights of individuals to free speech. By
respectfulness, we mean tolerance and consideration for the opinions and positions of
others, whether they are in alignment or conflict with your own.

B. Whether officially authorized to speak on behalf of the department or not, employees may
be seen by people outside of our agency as representatives of the Holyoke Police
Department. Employees are encouraged to represent the core values of our organization
whenever they make social media disclosures about our organization or
organization-related topics.

C. Harassment, threats, intimidation, ethnic slurs, personal insults, obscenity, racial or


religious intolerance and any other form of behavior prohibited in the workplace is also
prohibited via social media channels.

D. Employees who choose to make social media disclosures about topics relevant to our
organization should always be aware that their disclosures are not private or temporary.
Social media disclosures live online indefinitely, and employees should remember that
they will be visible to a broad audience and possible even read out of context.

E. Always show proper consideration when discussing religion, politics or any other
controversial issues that may provoke a charged, emotional response by demonstrating
tolerance and patience and always strive to show compassion for alternate points of view.

IX. DIPLOMACY

A. Internal social computing platforms permit a broad audience to participate, so be


sensitive to who will see your social media disclosures. If someone hasn't given explicit
permission for their name to be used, think carefully about how your social media
disclosure could impact intangibles such as morale or productivity. Again, when in doubt,
leave it out.

B. Don't try to settle scores or goad others into inflammatory debates. Here and in other
areas of public discussion, cooperate and acknowledge that everyone is important. Never
assume superiority. Always be humble. And be open to compromise, particularly when
the cost of conflict outweighs the cost of losing ground.

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X. RULE 5.10 CRITICISM OF DEPARTMENT

Officers shall not, except on matters of public concern, publicly criticize or ridicule the
Department., its policies, or other officers by speech, writing or other expression, where such
speech, writing, or other expression is defamatory, obscene, unlawful, is intended to undermine
the effectiveness of the department, is insubordinate, or is made with reckless disregard for truth
or falsity.

XI. RULE 5.13 MISREPRESENTATION OF FACTS IN OFFICIAL CAPACITY

No member of the department shall, under any circumstances, make any false official
statement or intentional misrepresentation of facts.

To Protect and To Serve


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