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The Office of Police Complaints is recommending a comprehensive, stand-alone social media policy for cops. Right now, the Metropolitan Police Department’s social media policy is a brief section lumped in with other information, like guidance about hardware and software use. It was last updated in November 2013.  

The independent governing body highlights the problem in a 45-page report released Monday

The report says, “Some members still have several common misconceptions regarding the personal use of social media that must be addressed with more comprehensive guidance. These misconceptions involve (1) privacy settings and private groups, (2) the use of pseudonyms or fictitious names, and (3) the precise prohibited conduct and manner which members may discredit or harm the reputation of MPD.” 

The report also offers some examples of questionable behavior. 

OPC received a complaint in May 2019 from one individual who said a cop mocked a community organization online. “What a loser,” the officer said on a Facebook group page. He used both a pseudonym and his real name, and even wore an MPD uniform in his profile picture.  

Another example comes from August 2017. OPC received a screenshot from an officer’s Twitter page, showing 17 members in front of a flag. The flag, the report says, “had several weapons on it, as well as a skull and crossbones, reading ‘vest up one in the chamber’ in reference to loaded weapons and body armor.” 

OPC is also recommending cops be trained on this policy should MPD release a new one. The report ends by highlighting other police departments’ policies, including that of Chicago. 

But as this ProPublica article shows, the mere existence of a social media policy—and even discipline, thereafter—doesn’t always dissuade officers from publishing inflammatory posts about, say, women and welfare recipients. This 2016 project shows how frequently cops post racist and bigoted content online. —Amanda Michelle Gomez (tips? Email agomez@washingtoncitypaper.com)  

CITY DESK LINKS, by Amanda Michelle Gomez:

  • D.C.’s child welfare agency mistakenly takes the wrong kid from Columbia Heights elementary school [WCP]

  • Federal prosecutors and D.C.’s crime lab work together to build criminal cases, but the former is questioning the latter’s “integrity and competence.” [Post]

  • D.C. statehood bill gets a committee markup and vote today at 10 a.m. It’s expected to pass the House. The Senate? Not so much. [Twitter]  

  • MPD says it won’t always handcuff minors. But Metro Transit Police does not have a similar policy—that became clear last week, when transit police handcuffed a 13-year-old at the Shaw-Howard U station. [DCist]  

  • Woman killed in Southeast D.C. fire. Firefighters say clutter complicated rescue efforts. [WTOP]

LOOSE LIPS LINKS, by Mitch Ryals (tips? mryals@washingtoncitypaper.com

  • Trump’s budget for D.C. [Post]

  • Virginia legislature moves forward on sports betting. [WAMU]

  • Mayor Muriel Bowser stumps for Mike Bloomberg. [DCist]

  • A woman is being kicked out of low-income housing for smoking. [Post]

YOUNG & HUNGRY LINKS, by Laura Hayes (tips? lhayes@washingtoncitypaper.com

  • All of the details on Albi from Chef Michael Rafidi, opening Feb. 20. [WCP]

  • A new way for D.C. to caffeinate. [WBJ]

  • Understanding the impact Coronavirus is having on American Chinese restaurants. [Eater]

  • Have wine lists gotten too intimidating to read and understand? [Post]

ARTS LINKS, by Kayla Randall(tips? krandall@washingtoncitypaper.com)

  • Studio Theatre’s Pipeline asks tough questions about race and education. [WCP]

  • The Maryland State House gets statues of Frederick Douglass and Harriet Tubman. [Post]

  • Shakespeare Theatre Company’s 35th anniversary season includes The Jungle and The Merchant of Venice. [DC Metro Theater Arts]

  • How local Girl Scouts successfully appealed to councilmembers to advocate for the big brown bat as D.C.’s official mammal. [Kojo Nnamdi Show]

SPORTS LINKS, by Kelyn Soong (tips? ksoong@washingtoncitypaper.com)

  • WNBA champ Kristi Toliver is rejoining the Los Angeles Sparks after three successful seasons with the Mystics. She will keep her job as an assistant coach for the Wizards. [High Post Hoops, Post]

  • The Washington NFL team hired its first full-time female coach. Jennifer King will join Ron Rivera’s staff as a full-year coaching intern, becoming the NFL’s first full-time African American coaching intern. [NFL.com, ESPN]

  • D.C. sports fans celebrate having pro football back in the city, even if it’s in the form of an XFL team. So far, it beats their experience at FedExField. [WCP]

MAKE PLANS, by Emma Sarappo (Love this section? Get the full To Do This Week newsletter here. Tips? esarappo@washingtoncitypaper.com)

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