from the to-serve-and-humiliate dept
Police professionalism is on display again, this time by New York's finest -- which may as well be the nation's finest, as far as the NYPD is concerned. The police department that thinks so highly of itself it portrays itself as an intelligence agency when working with federal agencies and ships officers to crime scenes (uninvited) all over the world to lend a
helping intruding hand is catching heat for an officer's decision to memorialize warrant service with some Snapchat posts.
A family in Brooklyn is outraged after NYPD officers raided their home, put everyone in handcuffs and then posted a picture of them on social media with the caption "Merry Christmas Its NYPD." The ordeal led to the suspension of an officer.
The Brownsville residents were so upset that not only did they file a report, but they also called 911.
The 911 call probably wasn't warranted (although it might have been the only way to get the NYPD's attention), but the anger is. The photos showed an entire family in handcuffs, their morning interrupted by the NYPD's search for someone who didn't even reside at this address.
The NYPD continues to claim the warrant was valid. Perhaps it was, but plenty of "valid" warrants result in homes being cracked open, but with no criminals, drugs, or anything else ever found. It's not uncommon for warrants to cite uncorroborated anonymous tips or information gathered months before the warrant is obtained. Waking up a family at 6:30 am to search for someone who isn't there is more than an inconvenience. Topping it off by celebrating a non-bust with a photo of a handcuffed family is just a disgusting display of misused power.
The officer involved has been suspended, but unlike the family outed by his Snapchat post, his name and face remain unpublicized. It took the officers three hours to determine the person they were looking for wasn't in the residence -- time one officer used to make jokes at the expense of a family that says it doesn't even know the person the NYPD was looking for.
The NYPD isn't particularly adept when it comes to social media. If it isn't officers taking photos of homeless people in a police union-backed attempt to bite at Mayor Bill De Blasio's ankles, it's the NYPD's official Twitter account going up in flames in the wake of a massively-ill advised hashtag campaign.
The suspended officer will likely return to work once the investigation concludes, but this sort of thing should always result in firing. There's no way the officer who posted this thought anyone would think it was acceptable. But he chose to do it anyway, most likely because the worst case scenario is what he's experiencing now: an Internal Affairs investigation and a suspension. If he truly thought he'd lose his job, he likely would have shown more restraint.
Police departments can't build relationships with communities while allowing officers to get away with this sort of behavior. There's little that's more intrusive than a search of your home by law enforcement officers. It completely strips away the privacy of the people involved. That's why warrants are required. Publicly posting photos during a search massively expands the boundaries of the intrusion. Turning this massive intrusion into a punchline shows the officer has no respect for the public he serves or the Constitution he's supposed to uphold.