Albuquerque police officer Trey Economidy probably thought it was a harmless joke when he listed his occupation as "human waste disposal" on his Facebook page. But it came back to haunt him after he was embroiled in a fatal on-duty shooting and a local news station broadcasted his profile on TV. The remark landed him on desk duty and is just one of the many Facebook-related headaches The New York Times says police departments are facing across the country. Pictured above, the public view of Economidy's current Facebook profile, which doesn't list any occupation.
The Times says defense attorneys scour the social networking profiles of police officers to get their clients off the hook.
In one case in New York, a jury dismissed a weapons charge against a defendant after learning that the arresting officer had listed his mood on MySpace as “devious” and wrote on Facebook that he was watching the film “Training Day” to “brush up on proper police procedure.”
In response, police departments everywhere are imposing new rules on how officers should behave online. According to the Times Albuquerque's is one of the strictest, prohibiting officers from identifying themselves as cops or using any kind of "departmental insignia—badges, uniforms, cruisers—without permission." Still, it seems the department remains laid back enough to OK Economidy's profile picture: It's a logo that's popularly sold as a patch to macho soldier-cop types.
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.