General Order 09-01-06
Sections I, II and III describe Purpose, Scope and Policy and make a Civics 101 observation we'll address later:
- Department members have a constitutional right to express their views under the First Amendment. However, Department members may be subject to discipline for violating the provisions of this directive. Any social media participation made pursuant to a Department member's official duties is not considered protected speech under the First Amendment.
Section IV is where it gets interesting:
- IV. Department Social Media Outlets
1. All Department social media outlets shall be approved by the Superintendent or his or her designee and shall be administered by Public Safety Information Technology (PSIT).
2. The use of Department computers by Department members to access any social media outlets is prohibited absent prior supervisory approval.
3. Social media content shall adhere to applicable laws, the Rules and Regulations of the Chicago Police Department, and any relevant Department policies, including all information technology and records management policies.
a. Department records retention schedules shall apply to social media content.
b. Content is subject to Local Records Act (50 ILCS 205/1).
c. Content must be managed, stored, and retrievable in compliance with the Illinois Freedom of Information Act (5 ILCS 140/1) and any relevant Department directives.
IV-A-1 pretty much covers the "Department social media outlets." That would be the Department Facebook account, ChicagoPolice.org and similar constructs. We don't know if the Department has a Twitter account, but we wouldn't follow it anyway.
IV-A-2 covers Department computers, none of which we use for our efforts.
IV-A-3a, b and c all apply to "Department social media outlets." Again, not our concern.
- B. Department members authorized to administer Department social media outlets shall:
1. conduct themselves at all times as representatives of the Department and, accordingly, shall adhere to applicable Department Rules and Regulations and Department directives.
2. not make statements indicating the guilt or innocence of any suspect or arrestee, or comments concerning pending prosecutions.
3. not post, transmit, or otherwise disseminate confidential information related to Department training, activities, or on-going investigations without express written permission.
4. comply with all copyright, trademark, and service mark restrictions in posting materials to electronic media.
5. not use personally owned devices to manage the Department's social media activities without proper approval.
6. ensure that all relevant privacy protections are maintained.
All of Section B appears to apply directly to the previously mentioned "Department social media outlets" and this makes sense. In an official capacity, comments should be measured and not compromise investigations. Someone shouldn't go in front the media after a police shooting and make statements like "This officer shouldn't have been on the street" or "this shooting is questionable in nature" or words to that effect. Something like that could jeopardize an officer's due process or taint a jury pool or even put the City on the hook for tens of millions of dollars, right?
Section V gives us pause, however:
- V. Department Members' Personal Use of Social Media Outlets
Here is where the Department once again attempts to regulate off-duty behavior. This is troubling because in Section III, the Department acknowledges the Constitutional Right and then attempts to walk all over it in Section V, conveniently forgetting that they previously stated it applies only to social media participation pursuant to official duties.
- A. When using social media, Department members should be mindful that their communications become part of the worldwide electronic public domain. Department members should be aware that privacy settings and social media sites are subject to constant modifications, and they should never assume that personal information posted on such sites is protected or secure.
Um, duh? The internet is forever, as evidenced by that Saint Sabina recording where McStreetlights told everyone that guns are racist while he traipses through crime scenes getting brass stuck in his shoes. Phleger's webmaster tried to take that piece of video down but failed miserably.
- B. Department members should expect that any information that they create, transmit, download, exchange, or discuss that is available online in a public forum may be accessed by the Department without prior notice.
We'll call this the "We are spying on you right now" section. For all you Facebook, Twitter, got-to-update-everyone people, the Department is watching some way, somehow. Maybe you didn't change all your security settings. Maybe you "friended" someone you shouldn't have. We have two stories about Facebook users who had their pages trolled by bosses. In one, the white shirt forwarded a funny photo to the commander in an attempt to get an officer in trouble, (this white shirt was investigated for his own blogging, by the way). In the other, the white shirt initiated a CR number against an officer for an another amusing photo (amazingly, this white shirt herself posted photos of a crime scene where a little boy got crushed by an airplane which subjected her to months of ridicule on the blog). Two-faced bosses undisciplined by the Department, yet free to run amok themselves.
- C. Department members are prohibited from posting, displaying, or transmitting:
1. any communications that discredit or reflect poorly on the Department, its missions or goals.
C-1 is the catch-all "Anti-Blogging Rule"
- 2. content that is disparaging to a person or group based on race, religion, sexual orientation, or any other protected class.
C-2 is the "Shaved Rule"
- 3. Department information, records, documents, video recordings, audio recordings, or photographs to which they have access as a result of their employment without the written permission from the Office of News Affairs or the Office of the Superintendent.
C-3 is "Crime Scene Photos Rule" or "Unauthorized Case Reports Rule" or "The Hitney Special Rule" (unenforced if you're heavy enough)
- 4. any references to any other Department member's employment by the Department without that person's consent.
C-4 is the "Fight Club Rule"
- 5. any intellectual property of the Department or the City of Chicago without the specific authorization of the Superintendent or his or her designee. Department or City of Chicago intellectual property includes but is not limited to logos, uniforms, official photographs, audio/video files, or any text documents (paper or electronic).
The only one of these that concerns us is C-1, and to that end we are waiving our rule to never speak of our members, our assignments, our work history in anything but the most general terms lest we provide Barb West and her ilk with a starting point for their next witch hunt.
To wit: One of our members recently retired from the Department. You may or may not have read their name in the FOP newsletter depending on how far behind they are. For all Department-related postings that involve photos, logos, audio/video files, and text documents, along with pointed commentary on the stupidity of policies, procedures and individual bosses who are public figures by virtue of being named Command Staff, they will post it on behalf of the readership.