NYPD Twitter campaign backfires, thousands of negative tweets

Wed Apr 23, 2014 3:18pm EDT
 
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By Chris Francescani

NEW YORK (Reuters) - A New York Police Department campaign to burnish its image via social media instead produced a flood of pictures of apparent police brutality and tweets critical of the force being shared at a rate of thousands an hour.

Police Commissioner Bill Bratton said on Wednesday he would continue and expand the NYPD Twitter campaign a day after it backfired, triggering an outpouring of negative images including police violence at New York's Occupy Wall Street demonstrations, an NYPD officer pointing a gun at a dog, and an officer asleep in a subway car.

"The reality of policing is that oftentimes our actions are lawful, but they look awful," Bratton told a news briefing at New York City Hall.

"Most of those photos that I looked at are old news," said Bratton, appointed by Mayor Bill de Blasio to take over from Ray Kelly, who served for 12 years under de Blasio's predecessor, Michael Bloomberg.

The department on Tuesday afternoon invited Twitter users to submit pictures of themselves with NYPD cops using the hashtag #mynypd, promising some would be posted to the NYPD Facebook page.

Within hours, a torrent of images depicting police brutality, violence and controversial tactics, most of which occurred under Kelly, deluged Twitter.

Some of the images and tweets referred to the fatal, controversial New York police shootings of Sean Bell in 2006 and Amadou Diallo in 1999, each of which led to criminal trials in which all the officers were acquitted.

By Wednesday morning, the #mynypd hashtag had been tweeted more than 94,000 times.   Continued...

 
A pedestrian walks past a line of New York Police Department (NYPD) cars parked at Times Square in New York, October 18, 2011. REUTERS/Gary Hershorn