The NYPD is getting schooled on Twitter... literally. As part of a "Twitter School" program that began in May, the New York Police Department's top brass have been attending classes on how to be smarter on social media.
NYPD commanders are being educated on the tough questions like "What is Twitter?" and whether or not to help out that Nigerian prince who keeps bugging everyone. The Wall Street Journal reports that the NYPD's Twitter School classes are aimed at increasing the positive power of social media for the Department and avoiding its obvious pitfalls.
But does the NYPD really need to send its officers to Twitter School?
The NYPD is probably hoping you didn't remember, but it's only been a few months since the Department launched its unsuccessful #MyNYPD Twitter campaign. The hashtag was intended to attract some free positive publicity for the NYPD -- ideally, some photos with Gotham residents smiling with their police officer chums.
Unfortunately, what the #MyNYPD campaign was mostly successful at generating was reports of NYPD officer misconduct -- like police brutality. And at a time when national mistrust for police is pretty abysmal, reports of NYPD officers shooting and roughing up innocent civilians was not exactly the desired result.
Aside from the NYPD's official efforts on Twitter, each officer is possibly a
ticking tweeting time bomb, potentially telling racist jokes, taking inappropriate cop selfies, or even live-tweeting an investigation. Left unchecked, a squad of untrained officers could become a Twitter nightmare.
Taking the 'Twit' Out of Twitter
Enter Twitter School. Headed up by NYPD's Director of Citizen and Workforce Engagement Martha Norrick, the program seeks to educate officers on the basics of Twitter and encourage good tweeting practices. Among its suggestions are:
The last one is pretty vital if the NYPD wants to maintain any control over its official accounts -- just ask The Associated Press what can happen if you don't train your employees to avoid Twitter scams.
Hopefully after NYPD's commanders graduate from Twitter school, we won't see as much idiotic behavior from officers... at least in 140 characters.