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Dallas PD Uses Twitter To Announce Cop Firings 118

Posted by Soulskill
from the at-least-they're-not-talking-about-their-breakfast dept.
New submitter natarnsco writes "The Dallas, Texas police chief has used an unusual weapon in his arsenal to announce firings and other disciplinary measures in the Dallas police force: Twitter. 'Dallas Police Chief David O. Brown has fired or disciplined 27 officers and employees in the last year. And every time he brings down the hammer, he announces it on Facebook and Twitter, specifying exactly who the men and women are and what they did. On Dec. 30, it was five officers and a 911 call operator.' The article goes on to say, 'Chief Brown is, as far as we know, unique among police chiefs in his use of social media. "I'm unaware of anyone else doing this," says Lt. Max Geron, who handles media relations at the Dallas Police Department. "If we weren't the first, we were one of the first." We checked out the Twitter profiles of various departments around the country as well and couldn't find a similar situation. The social media posts aren't an official policy of the DPD, but rather a "push for transparency" initiative, in Lt. Geron's words. "[It comes from] a desire to be more transparent and to get our message out to the greater community," he says.'"
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Dallas PD Uses Twitter To Announce Cop Firings

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  • Good PR stunt.
    • by drater (806171)
      Naw, just good.
    • Re: Good PR (Score:4, Insightful)

      by AvitarX (172628) <<gro.derdnuheniwydnarb> <ta> <em>> on Wednesday January 08, 2014 @12:14AM (#45894701) Journal

      I'd think good all around. When you live in the less savory parts of town, all you see is police abusing neighbors, and nobody caring. The residents know which cops misbehave, and don't see anybody getting consequences (somebody getting promoted or fired looks the same from your porch where all you know is you don't see them ). This is why when you're in the bad parts of town everybody hates the cops, even the law abiding citizens. This initiative hopefully allows people to see that those in charge do care.

      And yes, I am part of the problem, I support politics, and try to spread the word of abuse to colleagues, but I was not about to file actual complaints and get treated like that. As a white person icing with a white teacher, I had police protection rather than abuse even there (we would often complain about problems and have an officer stop by next day to talk about it, even though the far more upstanding black neighbors would complain for weeks and nobody so of care ).

  • This is what happens when you let the lawyers run the show.

    • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday January 07, 2014 @11:33PM (#45894529)

      Care to elaborate?

      I once worked with a police union lawyer before. There are a lot of stupid cops out there, but there are equally a lot of cops who get steamrolled by their chief. For example, maybe the chief wants to reduce his budget. He'll lie about some conduct just so he can fire a cop, ruining that cops career. Or maybe the chief or some other cop wants to retaliate against another cop for being too honest, or maybe just for being female or gay; they'll lie about some behavior to get the other cop fired or disciplined. Insane stuff like this happens all the time, because a lot of cops enter the police force young, and they never grow up.

      If a cop truly did something wrong, then usually there'll be evidence of it. If there's evidence, a lawyer can't get the employee off. At best he can beg the review committee for mercy, but they're under no obligation to do so.

      • by Mashiki (184564)

        Care to elaborate?

        The P&P Manual aka Policy and Procedures. Where the manual, isn't so much a book, but an entire encyclopedia. Ahh TPS, sitting at 14 volumes, each volume is 600+ pages.

      • by SacredNaCl (545593) on Wednesday January 08, 2014 @02:41AM (#45895445) Journal

        Care to elaborate?

        I once worked with a police union lawyer before. There are a lot of stupid cops out there, but there are equally a lot of cops who get steamrolled by their chief. For example, maybe the chief wants to reduce his budget. He'll lie about some conduct just so he can fire a cop, ruining that cops career. Or maybe the chief or some other cop wants to retaliate against another cop for being too honest, or maybe just for being female or gay; they'll lie about some behavior to get the other cop fired or disciplined. Insane stuff like this happens all the time, because a lot of cops enter the police force young, and they never grow up.

        If a cop truly did something wrong, then usually there'll be evidence of it. If there's evidence, a lawyer can't get the employee off. At best he can beg the review committee for mercy, but they're under no obligation to do so.

        I have witnessed a good officer let go for what I would consider an unjust cause. The officer in question didn't get with the new commanders special forces background, and wasn't hip to the SWAT style tactics that he brought with him. He was the kind of officer that used conversation to defuse dangerous situations rather than force. He was decorated twice for doing just that, defusing two hostage standoffs at great personal risk. The new boss took a minor complaint and went hog wild with it even though he knew there was never any racial animus in the officer. The police officer had no trouble finding another job with another department, but they let him go just before he became eligible for a better pension at retirement.

      • Let's just pontificate based purely on our own experience. Surely everyone has had an average life, average education, and average interaction with police. Therefore, we are on the same ground, and grant your experience the same as fable, and the same as our full of shit neighbor.
        Or, perhaps your experience is less or more than normal.
        Either way, no one should draw any conclusion on what you say, it serves at best as a data point.

      • by nbauman (624611)

        I worked for a union employment lawyer (no police), so I have a certain sympathy for the employee and I know how important it is to get both sides. Furthermore, I had a neighbor who was a cop who (story too long to give here) demonstrated enough courage, cool-headedness and restraint in a shootout to make me really admire him.

        However, in New York City, I must say that many and probably most of the cops are pigs -- they violate the law, arrest innocent people, and occasionally kill them. When they do, they a

    • I'd be pretty sure the lawyers are screaming right now. As much as we like to beat up cops, "public shaming" like this is borderline illegal for an employer to do, and certainly grounds for a civil lawsuit, no matter how justified the firing.

      Like others have said, a chief you didn't get along with is going to put ONE SIDE if the story of your firing on a public website... That's just open to be nasty and political. This is a lawyer nightmare (or easy paycheck!)

  • I'm not a member of either and do not get his tweets or posts, so how is this a 'push for transparency'?
    • by Anonymous Coward
      There's no state run media to publish in you know. What's the difference between going to the privately owned news paper or news station? And although I haven't checked, I'd be willing to bet that it's on the Dallas police website too.

      I'm not a member of either and do not get his tweets or posts

      Things aren't done only to serve you, you know. Many more do use those sites and most of those would not have otherwise known.

      But by all means, please continue trying to karma whore by posting nonsensical objections based solely on the fact that it mentions social media sites

    • by mysidia (191772)

      I'm not a member of either and do not get his tweets or posts, so how is this a 'push for transparency'?

      Not everyone subscribes to local newspapers, either; however, posting a public notice in one of them, to television, or other privately owned publicly accessible media, still counts as public notice, for example: for the purpose of substituted service (Service of process by publication, when an individual cannot be located) --- certain kinds of legal proceedings requiring that Public notice be giv

      • Not everyone subscribes to local newspapers...

        You don't have to subscribe to get a newspaper. Anyone can simply (and anonymously) purchase a newspaper. Facebook, twitter, whatever, it's the same as if he posted a bulletin at the local Freemason lodge, and they made copies and posted it at every lodge in the world. If you're not a member, you don't get that 'news'.

        • by gman003 (1693318)

          And you can view Twitter without an account (maybe Facebook? I think you could the last time I used it, nearly two years ago).

        • You don't have to subscribe to get a newspaper. Anyone can simply (and anonymously) purchase a newspaper. Facebook, twitter, whatever, it's the same as if he posted a bulletin at the local Freemason lodge, and they made copies and posted it at every lodge in the world. If you're not a member, you don't get that 'news'.

          I'm not a member of twitter. I'm not a member of Facebook. Not that it matters, but I'm not a member of the Freemasons, either.

          I got the news.

          Like it or not, and I'm pretty sure I don't, so

          • by TWX (665546)
            The barrier to legally have notified the community is very, very small. In my area there's a privately-owned weekly newspaper that serves the small local Orthodox Jewish community that is very frequently used for when organizations have to formally notify the public of corporation paperwork filings and other official changes, and the vast majority of those paid announcements are not made by members of that local Orthodox Jewish community. It happens that the circulation is considered high enough to meet t
            • by nbauman (624611)

              Somebody gave me a copy of the New York Jewish Week to ask me what I thought of it. They had six classified pages of legal notices.

              I don't think the New York Times has six pages of classified ads any more.

        • by mysidia (191772)

          You don't have to subscribe to get a newspaper. Anyone can simply (and anonymously) purchase a newspaper.

          That might be true for some newspapers -- but even if the newspaper required showing an ID to be logged in a database, in order to purchase without a regular subscription: it would still count as a public notice, as long as enough people in the community were buying it.

          If you're not a member, you don't get that 'news

          Anyone with access to an internet connection can freely become a "member" of Twit

    • It doesn't matter if it is a "push for transparency", just whether or not it sounds like it is in a TV commercial or political pamphlet when he runs for whatever office he clearly has in mind.
    • by koan (80826)

      How is it not?

      • How is it not?

        Slashdot is a "public" website, in that anyone can come and see all of the posts. But suppose that they changed it. Suppose that when you went to slashdot.org, you are immediately confronted with a login page (just like facebook), and you have to have credentials in order to see the posts. That's how not.

        • by Known Nutter (988758) on Wednesday January 08, 2014 @12:56AM (#45894909)

          you are immediately confronted with a login page (just like facebook), and you have to have credentials in order to see the posts

          But that's not what has happened in this case. DPD's Facebook page is public and viewable without being logged into Facebook, as are the details of each officer's discipline posted on Facebook [facebook.com].

    • by gandhi_2 (1108023)

      As opposed to something like Pravda?

    • by Arker (91948)

      They are and this is the one thing he is clearly doing wrong here.

      He has an official website provided by the tax payers and accessible to all. That's where this should be posted. Not on a pseudo-random private web site that is going to try to 'monetize' anyone that shows up looking for the information.

  • Unlikely to last (Score:5, Insightful)

    by ERJ (600451) on Tuesday January 07, 2014 @11:11PM (#45894375)
    Although I do think it is a good thing in that it helps strengthen the community support and trust of the police department I have a feeling that it will end at some point in the near future with a lawsuit....maybe I am just jaded but there is a reason that corporations tend to keep these details silent and have created the (poor in my opinion) rules around providing only the minimal amount of employment information after an employee is let go.
    • by Scutter (18425) on Tuesday January 07, 2014 @11:17PM (#45894415) Journal

      The department isn't a corporation and they are public employees. The time for police to keep things behind closed doors has long since passed.

      • by ERJ (600451)
        No, but the department can be sued like a corporation can.

        Like I said, I think it is a good thing but that doesn't mean it won't fall to the lawyers.
        • Re:Unlikely to last (Score:5, Interesting)

          by Scutter (18425) on Tuesday January 07, 2014 @11:26PM (#45894473) Journal

          I'm more concerned with the amount of criminal activity listed in the spreadsheet. These are just the ones that have been caught.

        • by TWX (665546)

          No, but the department can be sued like a corporation can.

          Like I said, I think it is a good thing but that doesn't mean it won't fall to the lawyers.

          Even more importantly, depending on how a given state has written their rules on employment and privacy, this kind of thing might be quite illegal in some places, and given specifically that this is the police and an arm of the state, an actual prosecution and conviction might be required for them to assert that anything at all publicly-disclosable has happ

    • by mysidia (191772) on Tuesday January 07, 2014 @11:27PM (#45894481)

      Although I do think it is a good thing in that it helps strengthen the community support and trust of the police department I have a feeling that it will end at some point in the near future with a lawsuit

      This is possible... and the Police chief may be found in the wrong, if he isn't very careful about what representations he makes in public. There could later be made a claim of libelous defamation -- particularly if the twitter messages imply the target for action was affirmatively guilty, and not "Dismissed under suspicion or allegation of X".

    • by troll -1 (956834)

      I have a feeling that it will end at some point in the near future with a lawsuit....

      But cops make press announcements all the time. What the diff? This is just a new meduim.

    • by jklovanc (1603149)

      The "rules around providing only the minimal amount of employment information after an employee is let go" are not a benefit to corporations. They are in fact a hindrance as they make it more difficult to weed out bad employment candidates.

      These rules came about due to libel litigation brought forth by publicly fired employees. Most companies would rather say nothing that risk a day in court, and the expenses involved.

      • by C0R1D4N (970153)
        This is why most applications have "May we contact this supervisor", if you put no they assume you left on gad terms
        • by jklovanc (1603149)

          That is also an intelligence test as most employers will not disclose the quality of employee work due to litigation fear. So not only did the applicant admit they left on bad terms but they admit they also don't know how HR works.

  • As it should be... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by sconeu (64226) on Tuesday January 07, 2014 @11:12PM (#45894391) Homepage Journal

    I agree with Forty Two Tenfold. It's good PR Stunt.

    If cops are canned for disciplinary reasons, they should be called out in public. Good for the chief here.

    • by gnoshi (314933)

      So what would differentiate a 'good PR stunt' from 'good transparency practices'?

      If that police department engages in other anti-transparency behaviour which indicate that any apparent transparency efforts are actually cynical PR smokescreens then sure, calling this a PR stunt is a reasonable. However, if the PD is not engaged in other anti-transparency behaviour, and this particular effort to be more transparent is dismissed out of hand as cynical PR activity then it doesn't encourage others to follow suit

    • by HalAtWork (926717)
      They are public servants and should have to answer to public scrutiny.
  • Good start (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday January 07, 2014 @11:15PM (#45894403)

    Get rid if your SWAT department, tanks, and machine guns next.

  • Is that suitable? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by cold fjord (826450) on Tuesday January 07, 2014 @11:18PM (#45894425)

    If it would end up in the newspaper, fine. Otherwise it could be considered a form of public humiliation.

    It also runs contrary to the old rule of praise in public, discipline in private. (Subject to transparency requirements.)

    I certainly hope that they aren't finding out after the news goes out.

    I wonder how often those tweets will have to be eaten? Tweet in haste, repent at leisure.

    • by koan (80826)

      Well look at how many got canned or disciplined, it seems to me making it public keeps them in line, and who the hell reads a newspaper?

      Oh you mean on a tablet or something right? Right next to Twitter.

    • by Anonymous Coward

      If it would end up in the newspaper, fine. Otherwise it could be considered a form of public humiliation.

      Funny. I thought a major point of putting any such details in the newspaper was because it was a form of public humiliation. You know, so the public can see that public official is being adequately chastised for their wrongdoing.

      It also runs contrary to the old rule of praise in public, discipline in private. (Subject to transparency requirements.)

      "The old rule"? Yea, uh, that's a crappy rule.

      I certai

    • by Hatta (162192)

      Cops who abuse their power deserve public humiliation, and prison.

  • by troll -1 (956834) on Tuesday January 07, 2014 @11:32PM (#45894519)
    The new perp walk.
  • "I have terminated SC Amy Wilburn today for firing her weapon upon an unarmed person without fear or justification."

    Cops where I live are getting scary, the young cops especially.
    At the local range I got ~70% of banned names on the board of shame are cops.

    • by koan (80826)

      Should be "At the local range I go to", anyway you know when it's a cop shooting, they always exceed the 1 second rule and are general asshats.

      • by godel_56 (1287256)

        Should be "At the local range I go to", anyway you know when it's a cop shooting, they always exceed the 1 second rule and are general asshats.

        Sorry, but what's the one second rule?

        As to the tweets, it might be better if his accompanying photo didn't show him smiling as he offed all these people.

        • by Indy1 (99447) <spamtrap@fuckedregime.com> on Wednesday January 08, 2014 @12:45AM (#45894839) Homepage

          my guess, the one second rule is "no more then 1 shot fired per second"

          Many inexperienced shooters try to fire too quickly (and not fully in control), and hit things they shouldnt, like target holders, other peoples targets, etc.

          Personally I hate rules like that, as it interferes with many of my drills, but I'm also a competition handgun shooter, so I've got a little more experience with controlled double taps, Mozambique drills, etc, compared to the average joe.

          • by koan (80826)

            They have places for you to go though, IDPA ranges, or pods, generally 6 meter high 180 degree coverage dirt berms where you can quick draw and rapid fire.
            On a public range full of idiots it's the last thing you want.
            And the rule is strictly enforced, so it's usually the cops scoffing at the rules in these places.
            Personally, I feel I'm more competent with my weapon than any cop I have met.

            • so it's usually the cops scoffing at the rules in these places.

              So no different than network admins and programmers who scoff at security rules in a workplace.
  • Interesting, because the Dallas Police Department was accused of massaging the crime statistics [battleswarmblog.com] back when Tom Leppert was Mayor. /Note: I'm part of the vast right wing conspiracy, but those charges were leveled by a columnist for the the left-wing Dallas Observer.

  • add public humiliation and well... dead suspects tell no tales.
  • "This little piggy went 'waah waah waah' all the way home #firedanotherone"?
  • As a citizen this is kind of nice to see any LEO Agency making an effort to be open about their practices. On the other hand though this is some very bad way for a boss to treat his employees, it's bad enough to get yelled at in the office, let alone to get it broadcasted to the world.
    • The top of the facebook post says "Dallas Police Chief David O. Brown disciplined the following officers during hearings this morning.".

      This isn't just about a boss disciplining his employees. This seems to be posting the results of police disciplinary hearings.

      There is a difference between yelled at for making mistakes at your job and being involved in a disciplinary hearing.

      • Also, as I searched a bit, there is precedent for making this information publicly available. If you look at http://www.cityofchicago.org/city/en/depts/cpb/auto_generated/police_discipline_archives.html [cityofchicago.org] you will find the equivalent information from the Chicago Police Department - a record of findings and decisions made by the Chicago Police board with respect to police discipline.

        So what is new here is not the fact that this information is being made publicly available (it already has, if not in Dallas, in

        • by g0bshiTe (596213)
          That's a huge difference, how many people even in Chicago know of that particular page vs how many people got an update from #CopsBusted.

          This is about like your spouse catching you cheating and renting a billboard and plastering your image on it with huge letters saying "CHEATER or ADULTERER" vs buying local tv airtime to post same over a few of your local cable channels, which would you rather have?
        • by g0bshiTe (596213)
          Also given that when a prospective employer calls your present or a former employer those old employers can only say "Yes x worked here" they can't by law go into detail about your work habits. How can the PD do it?

          Don't get me wrong, I fully understand and support transparency and accountability in our public servants, but I know I sure as hell wouldn't want every one of my write ups from my employers made public forever online.
          • "Also given that when a prospective employer calls your present or a former employer those old employers can only say "Yes x worked here" they can't by law go into detail about your work habits."

            Is there actually such a law? My understanding was that the general practice is more a safeguard against litigation happy employees filing defamation lawsuits. What's different here is that these are the results of disciplinary hearings where evidence has been presented and a decision has been made. i.e. the info

  • Officer Laura Martin was not fired but promoted this year. Here she is, standing bravely alongside Dallas Police Chief David Brown. But do you see fear behind her eyes?

    No, no I don't.

  • by MindPrison (864299) on Wednesday January 08, 2014 @06:51AM (#45896215) Journal
    Unfortunately, this is the current trend. While it may sound like a PR stunt, this is actually quite tragic. Why? Because it just shows us how FAR we've gotten into total surveillance. Sure, it could be nice to know that a cop is dirty and WHO that cop is, but many are fired for other reasons and this could potentially destroy the individuals future. Say - the cop was actually innocent, he's a human and not just another cop. Now, he'll have a hard time supporting his family because no one wants to hire someone busted on the job. The price we pay for knowing everything about everyone, will one day become too expensive, and I fear - it already is.
    • I'm glad to see so many comments like this for this story. I was expecting a lot of anti-establishment "fuck the police" sentiment, but I'm pleasantly surprised to see that the rights of privacy that everyone expects for themselves also apply to policemen. I don't like seeing police getting away with shooting innocent people because they don't like the colour of their skin, but this is too much of an overreaction.

    • Ya know, people get arrested all the time, and their names and mug shots are available for all to see. Not all of those arrested are guilty; some of them are completely innocent. Doesn't stop the cops from releasing available information about these arrests, does it? Why should we show extra concern toward accused police, and not accused non-police?
    • Say - the cop was actually innocent, he's a human and not just another cop. Now, he'll have a hard time supporting his family because no one wants to hire someone busted on the job.

      One would hope a bit of judicious word choice would be employed as appropriate. I do have to wonder how often the undeserved negatives you're concerned about would actually be found here - if it's a real problem, that would be the real story IMHO. These are offenses which even the Blue Line has not protected them from, let's recall. I don't like the idea of throwing a good cop under the bus for something minor, but if it was a firing infraction I'd say name-and-shame is the right way to counteract the hubri

  • Isn't this illegal? I mean I understand the public holding police to a higher standard than private or even public companies, but let's say one of those companies did the same to an employee, isn't there grounds for a lawsuit even if there was a disciplinary action taken against the employee? If the answer is yes, then how come the employees for the PD are being exposed via public medium for their transgressions?

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