BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) — After receiving both praise and criticism for suspending a Buffalo Police Officer without pay for violating a department policy, officials with the Buffalo Police Department are explaining why.
Department leaders said they weren’t amused when an officer appeared in videos on a platform called Vine. Although the officer’s videos are described by many as an effort to both blow off steam and connect with the community through humor, Buffalo Police explained they will hold officers accountable to their contracts.
A Buffalo Police spokesperson released the entire policy, saying it pertains to all members of the department — including those who are sworn and those who aren’t. The policy is relevant to all web pages, both personal and public, and bans any reference to the Buffalo Police Department, so as not to discredit the department.
The policy reads all members of the department are prohibited from posting “any photographs, video or audio recordings, likeness or images of departmental logos, emblems, uniforms, badges, patches, marked or unmarked vehicles, equipment or other material that specifically identifies the Buffalo Police Department and tends to discredit the department on any personal or social networking website or web page.”
Although the policy is strict, it does provide some room for officers wishing to post photos online. Department members can seek approval from the Commissioner of Police to post photographs with department logos, or unmarked vehicles.
Police officials used those grounds for the unpaid suspension of officer Richard Hy, who can be seen on certain videos in police vehicles, including one with a vest that identifies him.
See the entire policy below:
The Buffalo Police Department (“Department”) has established a social media policy that pertains to all members of the Department, both sworn and unsworn. This policy will pertain to all personal web pages or internet sites where there is any reference to the Buffalo Police Department, to ensure employees use appropriate discretion in the use of references to the Buffalo Police Department so as not to discredit the Department; to ensure that the release of information concerning crimes, accidents, or violations of ordinances or statues to persons outside the Department is not disseminated, either directly or indirectly; and that all employees treat as confidential the official business of the Department.
It shall be the policy of the Buffalo Police Department that employees of the department are prohibited from posting, transmitting and / or disseminating any photographs, video or audio recordings, likeness or images of departmental logos, emblems, uniforms, badges, patches, marked or unmarked vehicles, equipment, or other material that specifically identifies the Buffalo Police Department and tends to discredit the department, on any personal or social networking website or web page. No employee shall represent themselves, directly or indirectly, in any public forum, as a member of the Buffalo Police Department, either by text, photograph, or image depicting the uniform, badge or patch in any manner that reflects a lack of good moral character. No employee will represent themselves in any public social media forum as an employee of the Buffalo Police Department with information, opinion or posture that would bring unfavorable criticism or embarrassment upon the department.
A. Employees having personal web pages or other types of internet postings which can be accessed by the public, shall not place or allow photographs or depictions of themselves dressed in uniform and / or displaying official identification, patches or badges, or in any other way, either directly or indirectly, identifying themselves as an employee of the Buffalo Police Department in any manner which tends to discredit the Department.
B. Photographs or other depictions of department marked or unmarked vehicles, shall not be posted on internet sites without approval of the Commissioner of Police.
C. Photographs of police buildings, other than public areas inside or outside of the buildings as well as any crime or accident scene shall not be posted.
D. Employees are prohibited from posting, transmitting and or disseminating any pictures or videos of official Department training, activities or work related assignments without approval of the Commissioner of Police.
E. Employees wishing to use photographs, depictions or references to the Buffalo Police Department, must receive approval from the Commissioner of Police.
F. Employees who post photos, comments, etc. of other department employees acting in the course of, or related to; their employment with the Department must inform and seek approval from the employee(s) before posting same.
H. All employees shall treat as confidential the official business of the Department.
I. No employee shall release, either directly or indirectly, information concerning crimes, accidents or violations of ordinances or statutes to persons outside the Department except in the course of their official duties.
A. An employee seeking approval to use references to the Buffalo Police Department on a personal website, webpage or other public forum, shall submit a request for approval to the Commissioner of Police via the chain of command.
B. The request shall describe the proposed reference or material and purpose.
C. The request shall also include a written description of the webpage, website or other electronic medium where the post will be seen, as well as the address of the webpage, website or other electronic medium.
D. The approval process is subject to the following limitations:
1. No sexual, violent, racial, ethnically derogatory material, comments, pictures, artwork, video or other reference may be posted along with any Department approved reference.
2. Employees shall not post any material on the internet that brings discredit to or may adversely affect the efficiency or integrity of the Department.
3. Employees are reminded to exercise good judgement and demonstrate personal accountability when choosing to participate on social networking sites. They should also consider the possible adverse consequences of internet postings, such as cross-examination in criminal cases, in addition to public and private embarrassment, etc.