Baltimore Police Can’t Decide If Twitter Is a Good Idea or Not

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Yesterday, the Baltimore Police Department announced a new policy: it would  dial down its use of social media, no longer using Twitter to inform the public of “criminal-on-criminal” violence. Which, okay, fine: tweeting about shootings to BPD’s 40,000 followers doesn’t particularly help the city’s image problem. But there was just one big problem with this plan…

“The department is not going to tweet out every time a drug dealer shoots another criminal in the leg for nonpayment, i.e. criminal-on-criminal crime that we know,” Jack Papp, BPD spokesman, told the Baltimore Sun. “We will still tweet out instances where nonfatal shootings involve citizens, public safety issues, etc. in real time, as well as homicides.” He didn’t specify how the department would determine whether a particular victim was a criminal, a drug dealer, or a “citizen.”

The outcry against the new policy was swift and severe: no one was asking BPD to provide less information, and besides, any police policy making it clear that some victims matter more than others is troubling, to put it mildly. As City Councilman Brandon Scott told the Sun, “We cannot go around valuing one life over another.” A few hours later, the department announced that it would reverse its reversal — that is, that it would keep tweeting. For now, at least.

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