Get your mind out of the gutter please, we’re talking about cops who blog and the risks they assume when they do. Or in this case, when they post on Facebook and somebody doesn’t like what they see.
Deyna Carabajal is a police officer in Houston and she’s riding a desk rather than working the streets while IAD investigates her work-related Facebook postings. Another Facebook user complained that Carabajal’s page contained postings that were inappropriate. Apparently she doesn’t like Hondurans, or more accurately she doesn’t like Hondurans who are illegal immigrants and otherwise find ways to break the law.
The postings on Facebook were discovered by a Honduran woman who was connected as a “friend” with the officer on the popular social networking site, allowing her to read the officer’s posts on the World Wide Web.”At first, they were offensive to me and I just thought she wasn’t doing her job,” said the woman, who spoke on the condition of anonymity.”I just feel uncomfortable and, to be honest, she’s in law enforcement and they should protect and guide us to the right path,” said the woman, who has never met the officer in person.
Numerous postings by Officer Deyna Carabajal, 32, spelled out her dislike for Hondurans, including numerous posts where she suggested she would arrest them for various reasons.”Zero tolerance 4 yall today,” she wrote in one of her posts. “Y’all look at me wrong at all today — y’all riding,” she wrote. “Riding” is police lingo for taking a trip to jail.
I’ve seen this before too many times, and I’ve discussed it in detail before: Staying Low And I’ve outlined my research on the legal issues as well as laying out my rules for cops who want to blog and stay out of trouble: Freedom of Speech and Internet Publishing for Da Pohleece. If you don’t want to read all of that – what you need to know is, don’t post work stuff where the general public can see it. Yes, you do have 1st Amendment rights like everyone else, but when it comes to publishing work related information your rights get limited. And, if you are going to post work stuff on the internet, you have to balance the public’s interest to be informed against your agency’s interest to run without being embarrassed by its employees.
If you’re wondering if Officer Carabajal is going to get zapped – the answer is almost certainly that she will. If she’s lucky she gets to keep her job, but at the very least she’s going to get some form of discipline.
The first problem is that she publicly said that there is a nationality, Hondurans, that get no slack from her. That is the sort of thing that makes police administrators’ jaws start clenching.
Chief McClelland said, “This is not the first time an individual, if that’s true …what you’re saying, have been disciplined for this type of behavior. It happens from time to time and we certainly have policies on the books to deal with that.”
That’s chief-speak for, “I already know what policy violations we’re going to cite her for”.
And to be fair you have to concede the man’s point here. While real cops are rolling around in the street wrestling crooks, guys like the chief spend their days talking with politicians and their uglier cousins, “community activists”. (I’ve played the police game both of those ways and I would rather ‘rassle a thief than swim in the shit with a politician any day of the week – the street cooks are more honest.) But chiefs of police have to listen to shit from the politicians, and they listen to the community activists. Plus, for every drunk, law-breaking Honduran that Officer Carabajal ever met, the chief has met Hondurans who are titled “Professor”, “Doctor”, or “His Excellency the Ambassador of Honduras”. When one of his officers publishes something that says all Hondurans are all crazy and have no regard for the law, it makes the chief’s life considerably less pleasant when dealing with Hondurans who aren’t crooks.
The other issue is a more practical one. She has damaged her professional credibility. Every criminal defense attorney in town will have this story in hand if they ever find themselves working a case in which Officer Carabajal is a witness. The shysters love to twist things, but it just makes sense to attack the credibility of a witness who leaves themselves exposed like this. If the defendant is a Honduran then the defense attorney is going to smell blood in the water. And it won’t be limited to Hondurans, a good attorney will just throw this thing out there to see what damage he/she can do. “Well, we know you hate Hondurans and discriminate against them. How do we know what hatreds you harbor towards Pakistanis like my client? The practical problem here is pretty easy to see – what good is a cop who can’t testify on the stand and be believed?
Watch your asses folks.