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Policing police on social networking sites

By By JOLEEN FERRIS

UTICA, N.Y. (WKTV) - Cops tweet, too. And Facebook and Myspace. That's why one local police chief is taking steps to make sure his officers don't post anything in cyberspace that could come back to haunt them.

Utica police Chief Mark Williams says an article in a law enforcement publication prompted him to head off the problem, instead of reacting to it once it happens. Williams says some police agencies have had problems with defense attorneys mining social media websites for damaging photos and posts from police officers in order to discredit them on the witness stand during criminal trials. So Williams decided to address the issue in writing, and make it policy at UPD.

"We spoke about the problem in a command staff meeting and at that point we decided to amend our policy to make sure we included that information in our department policies and procedures...and that was distributed to our department" - Utica Police Chief, Mark WIlliams

Williams said that you have to be careful when trying to modify officers' behavior when they're off-duty, but that preserving the integrity of the arrests that they make and the subsequent trials is also important.

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