A few days ago, the Gainesville Police Department in Florida posted the following picture of three of its officers on its Facebook page with this caption:
“Officers Nordman, Hamill and Rengering…part of the night crew getting ready to do some work. #Irma”
The picture took off and has now been shared over 263,000 times. More specifically, the social media post took on a life of its own with comments from women. Here are just a couple examples that are fairly tame in comparison to others:
It appears that this type of response from the ladies was more than the three officers from the Gainesville PD had bargained for. Nevertheless, they ate it up and updated the post thanking everyone for the comments and promising that a calendar will follow.
As a result of the attention, the Bismarck Police Department seemingly picked up on Gainesville’s popularity and decided to jump in with the following Facebook post and this caption:
“Hey Gainesville Police Department! We can’t help you with Hurricane #Irma relief, but we’ll see your three heroes and raise you two of our own!”
Bismarck Police Department’s Social Media Manager, Officer Lynn Wanner, told KFYR-TV that the practice of responding to other department’s social media posts is not uncommon. According to Officer Wanner, it is done in the spirit of building camaraderie.
Whereas the Gainesville PD seemingly got more than they originally intended, the Bismarck PD appears to have got exactly what they wanted– attention. Here’s just a couple of the comments on their post:
While I realize that these gentlemen were only intending on having a little fun, it seems to me that they were also fishing for the type of response that the Gainesville Officers garnered. Which begs the question– Is this an appropriate use of time and resources for officers to be engaging in such a thing?
I’ll admit that I’m old fashioned. Two men that I admire most in my life – my father and a cousin – were both cops. Their level of professionalism would have never allowed them to even entertain the thought of using an official department platform as a means of gaining attention from women.
I’m not the only one that recognizes this type of situation as inappropriate. One woman actually participating in the comments on the Gainesville page admitted as much with her comment there:
In an article published earlier this year on ethics in law enforcement, author Timothy Roufa – who it just so happens is the “Chief Technology Officer for the largest statewide law enforcement agency in Florida” – wrote this:
“It’s often said that no other profession demands a higher ethical standard than that of law enforcement. Regardless of whether or not there are other careers that require a similar dedication to doing the right thing, it is undeniable that there is an understandably tremendous degree of expectations placed upon police officers, and rightly so.
“An important thing for officers to remember is that what they do in uniform affects not only themselves as individuals, but their entire agency and, perhaps, the entire profession.”
Are these social media posts the end of the world? No. And it’s certainly not the worst that officers could be doing. But that isn’t an excuse. When it comes to our law enforcement, we should expect a higher standard of conduct. They need not be fishing for comments from the ladies. Instead, they should maintain the highest level of professionalism and keep their attention seeking on their personal social media pages, not the public ones.
1. https://www.facebook.com/GainesvillePolice/posts/10154671675062015:0 2. https://www.facebook.com/bismarckpolice/