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PTP 36: Just because you have rights, doesn't mean you should exercise them.

The Police Podcast

Release Date: 07/16/2015

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Today's point to ponder is brought to you by:

Policies, procedures, guidelines and training all attempt to help and guide a law enforcement officer's decision-making and set the boundaries for what should and shouldn't be done. But, is that enough?

Police are to be neutral and leave their opinions at the door when they walk out on the street to enforce laws and protect the public. All too often lately we are seeing that the opinions expressed while off-duty can easily carry over into their on-duty existence.

Agencies are struggling with the idea of protecting an individuals right to freedom of speech while balancing that freedom with protecting the reputation of the department, or more importantly the reputation and effectiveness of the officer.

It is very easy to get emotionally charged up and try to express what you are feeling on the playground of social media but that expression can cost you.

Yes you have rights protecting your speech, but in the grander scheme of things, should you exercise them? In  some cases, absolutely not.

Officers are getting investigated and disciplined for expressing their thoughts in their private lives which may never be shown or expressed while working. You may be incredible at dividing your personal feelings from your work obligations and never do anything wrong, but one post, like, share on social can be used against you in your profession, rightly or wrong...that's reality.

The BEST way to protect yourself is just to refrain from making a post that will bring your integrity, reputation and professionalism into question.

Related Articles: http://www.kirotv.com/news/news/can-police-agencies-restrict-officers-freedom-spee/nj5ZY/

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2015/02/04/police-facebook_n_6615782.html

http://www.policeone.com/columnists/val-van-brocklin/articles/7986820-understanding-court-decisions-on-public-employees-first-amendment-protections/