April 24, 2014
On April 22, when the New York Police Department asked Twitter users to share photos of its officers, it might have been expecting feel-good neighborhood scenes or shots of tourists smiling with police horses in Times Square.
But as The New York Times reported the next day, scores of people jumped on the opportunity to attach unfavorable pictures of New York City cops. These included images of a supervisor twisting a protester’s arm behind his back as well as officers holding a photographer down on the pavement, knocking a bicyclist to the ground during a protest ride and pointing a gun at a dog.
The response was an embarrassing stumble for the city’s police department, which had been aggressively trying to engage with New Yorkers on social media platforms, particularly on Twitter.
Commissioner William J. Bratton had been active on his own Twitter account for months, relying on an officer from the department’s communications team to write messages and post photos, the Times reported. The department has enjoyed some success with images that went viral online and in traditional media, including one of an officer giving a pair of boots to a homeless man in 2012.
According to NYPD spokesman Stephen Davis, the negative response to its request for photos on Twitter will not stop the department from continuing its social-media endeavors. “You take the good with the bad,” he said. — Greg Beaubien