TMI? Cracking down on police officers who ‘overshare’ online


SANDY — The agency that certifies and disciplines police officers in Utah has a social media problem: officers who are oversharing information about their lives online.

“On a national level and a local level, there’s been a number of officers that have posted inappropriate things on Facebook,” said Major Spencer Turley of the Utah Department of Corrections. “Whether that’s been case sensitive information or it’s been a correctional officer in jail or a prison that’s made a comment on an inmate suicide.”

At its quarterly meeting in June, the Utah Peace Officer Standards and Training (POST) Council adopted new training for rookies in the police academy on social media, and the dangers of posting too much.

“We’ll take that extra hour in that ethics and professionalism class and talk about some of those issues that are plaguing almost all of law enforcement,” Turley said.

Police acknowledge it is a growing problem, especially among younger officers who have grown up posting selfies, status updates and tweeting about many aspects of their daily lives.

But POST said there is a line that can be crossed.

“We’re definitely seeing an increase in information that’s put onto social media sites,” Scott Stephenson, the director of Utah POST, told FOX 13. “That was the impetus for our policy.”

POST has expressed concerns about sensitive information from a criminal investigation being shared. Stephenson said there is also a concern with officers sharing too many details about their private lives, raising a safety issue.

“We arrest people and they’re not always happy about that,” Stephenson said. “So we definitely need to be protective of our position.”

Many individual departments already have policies that prohibit sensitive information from being released. The training on social media oversharing goes into effect immediately for corrections cadets. Similar training will also be offered to law enforcement cadets, POST said.

5 comments

  • Mark

    My department adopted a policy two years ago that no officer is allowed to post pictures of them in uniform, their vehicles, comment on any crime or call, or indicate anywhere that they work for our police department. It would even be a violation of policy for me to write which PD I work for here in this comment.

  • Trish

    Why don’t they crack down on police shooting pets? Or police shooting PEOPLE!?!? Or police CORRUPTION?
    Of course they focus on making police LESS transparent and waste resources training them how to properly use social media rather than teaching them to be honest and training them in the use of non-lethal force.
    Great plan.

    • Freedom From Tyranny

      Don’t put an officer’s life in jeopardy and he/she will treat you like a decent human being. Act like an animal and the officer is going to treat you like one.

  • Tim Lund

    What people don’t realize, it the cops can look at your facebook and read your messages. what is a threat, is a hacker can view log ins of where the person logged in at, everything is traceable. I think its good to have them on but not to let the public know what they do, cause we do have criminals on facebook and the events are going on

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