Prince George, MD Police to Live-Tweet Prostitution Arrests
Last week a social media effort by the NYPD failed miserably, with users tweeting pictures of police brutality attached their hashtag: #myNYPD. One would think that other police departments would perhaps be hesitant to promote their social media accounts after that, but it seems nothing scares Prince Georges County Police Department in Maryland. The media team for the department posted on the police blog that their Vice Unit would be live-tweeting a prostitution sting.
This should be a terrible idea simply because most prostitution is solicited via the internet so it seems reasonable both sex workers and their customers know how Twitter works. Yet the PGPD is doubling-down on the terrible because they also say that “[s]uspect photos and information will be tweeted.” To make things even worse, the post opens with a faux-cutesy line that they won’t say “when or where” this will happen, as if publicly indicting citizens as criminals on social media is some big joke.
The Huffington Post notes that originally on the post, the image showed a woman bound by plastic zip-cuffs being led by a police officer, even though the sting is supposed to only target the customers. This has sex workers’ advocates up in arms, because if a woman is in a trafficking or abusive situation, publishing her name and photo will only make her situation worse.
Of course there are also the rights of the suspects to consider as well. Unlike police blotters in local papers or even the odd slow-local-news day report, things posted to the internet have a timelessness about them. Even if the suspect is eventually found not guilty, that image will remain out there forever tarnishing their reputation.
The PGPD seems to be convinced that this is a good thing and says that it is part of a general transparency strategy that the department hopes to implement. The hashtag is already dominated by people criticizing the department and including links to the department’s scandals.
Photo via @PGPDNews on Twitter.