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There’s a new form of police misconduct, and it’s happening on social media

On Behalf of | Jun 23, 2021 | Criminal Defense

It’s no secret that police misconduct is rampant in our country. Policing policies seem to disproportionately affect communities of color and those with mental health issues, and, despite their efforts, states and local governments have failed to curtail the issue. This leaves the rights of every day citizens trampled. In far too many cases, some of these individuals are injured or killed as a result.

The expansion of police misconduct

While traditional police misconduct, such as the use of illegal and brutal arrest tactics, continues to rage on, the behavior has evolved over time and has now invaded social media. You don’t have to look far to find a police officer posting controversial memes or re-tweeting racial statements. In fact, many police officers faced scrutiny during the George Floyd protests for voicing support on social media for law enforcement professionals known for their brutal policies.

One of the most glaring instances of inappropriate police behavior came in 2008, when, as part of a Halloween party, a picture of a police officer and someone dressed as a character from the Chappelle Show giving a Nazi salute was posted to social media. That picture was covered by local news agencies and ended up costing the officer his job.

Investigations are ongoing

It appears as if police departments and labor unions recognize the perils of mixing social media posting and law enforcement work. That’s why controversial posts are often investigated and sometimes lead to disciplinary action. However, experts in this field indicate that officers who post discriminatory and otherwise controversial material on their social media pages typically claim that they’re not racist or that they never intended to give a bad impression. In a lot of cases, the officers think that the post in question is humorous.

But there’s nothing funny about them. The truth of the matter is that these investigations come too late. By the time posts are removed and officers are disciplined, the damage has been done. The message has been sent by law enforcement that brutal and discriminatory practices are tolerable, which increases the chances that you or a loved one will be subjected to police brutality and other illegal police actions.

Dealing with Constitutional rights

Of course, there’s a balancing of interests here. After all, a lot of police officers who are disciplined for their social media posts claim that they are simply exercising their right to free speech. That may be true, but citizens have Constitutional rights that need protected, too. They have the right to be free of unreasonable searches and seizures, and they should be protected from violent police practices that have far too often caused serious injuries and death.

So how do you reconcile the two? The sad reality is that officers will probably continue to make these egregious posts, thereby furthering a false narrative that police brutality is necessary, diverse communities deserve aggressive enforcement that crosses the line, people with mental health issues can only be controlled by force, and that the line between effective policing and brutality is blurred. That means that the onus is on you to stand up for your rights when they’ve been violated.

Stand up for your rights and aggressively defend yourself

If you’re facing criminal charges but were subjected to illegal police practices, then you need to know how to competently build your criminal defense. You might have a number of options at your disposal, including seeking the suppression of evidence that is critical to the prosecution’s case. Building an appropriately thorough criminal defense strategy can be challenging, though, especially when you’re going up against law enforcement officers and prosecutors who have it out for you.

But don’t let that scare you. Skilled and well-renowned legal teams like ours stand ready to help you fight for a just outcome to your case. To learn more about how, please continue to browse our website.