By James Elimian
Before the emergence of technology and the introduction to social media sites like Facebook and Twitter, if you wanted insight into the minds of police, you would have to known a cop personally or be related to one. Their opinions would only be known to a few people such as fellow cops or loved ones. Now with social media, if cops want to share their opinion it will be heard by everyone, especially if it’s controversial. Halfway across the globe in Ireland, 6 officers are feeling the heat from their decision to air their controversial opinions on social media. According to the Belfast Telegraph a UK news source, 6 officers from Northern Ireland have been disciplined in the past 3 years for making unprofessional lewd comments on their social media accounts. The comments have ranged from homophobic remarks about gay people to one officer who found it amusing that he had a call to help a man who had mental issues and was found naked in a ditch. He decided to make fun of the man by putting mocking hashtags on his post. The mother of the victim considered it cyber-bullying and it was humiliating to her son. It is very shocking to see people who are public officials say these things, when their duty is to protect and serve the public. It’s awful to think that people we ensure with our trust to have our best interests at heart have this type of thinking which could influence their decisions in the field
This type of situation isn’t just common in Ireland, it has happened here in the US as well. American police officers have had numerous cops who have been caught saying scandalous things on social media. For example, in 2016, a cop in Canton, Ohio was caught during a live stream calling African Americans a derogatory name. According to USA Today, he called black people “monkeys” and that they needed to go home. So this type of problem is known through the world. It has been argued by some that cops don’t get to have the same free speech as private citizens and that though they are posting on their private accounts they would get more repercussions for their words than a regular citizen. Having said that, it can also be argued that because they’re a part of a public service they can’t be allowed to say everything they want. Just like at one’s job, you wouldn’t be allowed to say whatever springs to mind, the same applies to police officers.