Officer Uhlman of the Brockton police department has been posting on the http://www.inbrockton.com/ forum providing information pertaining to city code violations. The information being given was public and openly available to the public. I emailed the Chief of Police in Brockton Chief Conlon and asked why he was not allowed to post, in his professional manner as he always does, responded to me within a couple of hours. I am pleased with the response and understand the policy on why Officer Uhmnan is not allowed to post on such a forum.
Thank you for the kind words about the police department in general and about Officer Uhlman specifically. I appreciate your concerns and thoughts on these matters. Officer Uhlman is a fine officer and his heart is in doing the best he can for the city. I know that, the mayor knows it and so do the city councilors. It is unquestioned. That said however, I cannot allow each and every officer to speak or write in public forums about the specifics of their daily encounters as relates to their official duties.
As do all police departments, the Brockton PD has a written set of policies and procedures that personnel are to adhere to. Our policies and procedures call for either the chief or the chief's designee to act as the department's Public Information Officer (PIO). The PIO is responsible to coordinate the release of authorized information concerning agency investigations and operations. There is potential liability to the city and the police department every time information is released. An inadvertant slip of the tongue or typed words that turn out to be mistaken can lead to problems. Even perceptions that others may make from misinterpreting what is said can create needless angst and litigations. Scott is not authorized to act as our PIO. I would hope that the reasoning for such prohibitions is clear. It is not to punish but rather to prevent liability to both him and the police department/city.
Further in our policies and procedures under the category of "miscellaneous" are directives that "No member of the Department is to forward any typed or written communication to any agency or person without the approval of his/her supervisor, who shall be responsible for its contents". Also, under the same category is the directive that "No employee is to identify himself by rank or title, either in writing or orally, unless the matter at hand concerns police business". In the case at hand Scott was identifying himself in writing as "Officer" Scott and while off-duty, talking about specific police business, in a public forum which was not an official outlet of the police department. I can't have officers publicly speaking/writing whenever they wish about official police business. It is simply too fraught with potential liability. There is too much of a likelihood for things to get twisted around as multiple persons comment about what gets written. Please understand that we must adhere to our own policies and procedures. Scott hasn't been punished. He was simply asked to conform to those policies and procedures BEFORE anything negative occurs. I hope that this clarifies what was done and why. Officers can blog all they want so long as they do it as private citizens and don't talk about their official dealings.
Chief Conlon and the Brockton Police Department.