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To Reject and Serve?

Josette Thompson  Follow

Photo Credit: Kirsten Luce, The New York Times

The NYPD seems to have an ongoing issue of reputation management with how they are perceived by the public they serve. Some may argue this reputation is unfounded and others would deem it accurate and well-deserved. From my perspective, it appears that quite a bit of the NYPD’s reputational issues stem from racially charged occurrences, and while this can be an uncomfortable topic for some, it truly fascinates me. I don’t think anyone can dispute just how tough and dangerous a job these officers have, but does that give them the option to choose who they protect and serve?

One recent bit of news in particular that made me shake my head in disbelief were the racial slurs plastered all over a Facebook group entitled "No More West Indian Day Detail,” where officers regarded parade revelers as “animals” and “savages” and wished they would “kill each other.” My first reaction at reading this in the news was one of surprise, not because I couldn’t fathom people - cops or otherwise - being racist, but because they were dumb enough to create a Facebook group with this trash. How do you litter a public domain with such hateful language as a civil servant that the public looks to for protection? Their rationale, “It’s not racist, if it’s true.”

I can digress and go into many other areas based on this filth, but back to the topic of reputation management. What these officers may have failed to realize (or just didn’t care) is that everything they say on this Facebook page is searchable and will live on the Internet forever. Ironically, this past summer the NYPD created a unit to track criminals via social media – too bad a workshop couldn’t be implemented so they could conduct themselves responsibly online. What is perplexing is that the ignorant rants from a few, may potentially put their brethren in danger in high crime areas further feeding the perception that all cops are bad.

The NYPD has a few issues to deal with, but in the case of officers spewing hate in a public forum, there needs to be a concerted effort to manage the potential fallout, before it gets even more out of hand. I wonder if the NYPD’s internal communications folks see this as an issue. And when the view by many is that the police force gets away with well…murder, maybe it’s too late to do much to manage the reputation. Perhaps the NYPD needs a bigger overhaul. CJP

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