Seattle police chief announces new social media policy for employees, including on their private accounts

SEATTLE -- Seattle Police Chief Kathleen O'Toole announced Friday a new social media policy for employees in the wake of a instances where "inappropriate" or racial comments were posted by officers on their private accounts.

"Engaging in prohibited speech outlined in this policy may provide grounds for discipline and may be used to undermine or impeach an officer’s testimony in legal proceedings," O'Toole wrote in one part of the policy.

It went on to state:

"Employees may express themselves as private citizens on social media sites as long as employees do not:

"– Make, share, or comment in support of any posting that includes harassment, threats of violence, or similar inappropriate conduct

"– Make, share, or comment in support of any posting that ridicules, maligns, disparages, expresses bias, negative connotations, or disrespect toward any race, religion, sex, gender, sexual orientation, nationality, or any other protected class of individuals

"– Make, share, or comment in support of any posting that suggests that Department personnel are engaged in behavior reasonably considered to be unlawful or reckless toward public safety

"– Otherwise violate any law or SPD policy."

O'Toole wrote that employees are "responsible for the content of their social media accounts" and they should "make reasonable efforts to monitor their accounts so that postings made by others on their accounts conform to this policy."