Keeping goats is illegal in Southfield, Mi., so police headed to a densely populated neighborhood in response to a report of two baby goats on a residential roof, says the Detroit Free Press. An officer posted a photo of the animals on his Facebook page. “The officer thought it was cute,” Southfield Police Chief Joseph Thomas said, but, “that’s a photograph of the crime scene.” The officer was lightly disciplined, and the photograph removed.
That led the department to re-examine how it deals with the private lives of its public officers. The department is one of several that doesn’t have specific policies about social media sites, but does require officers to keep evidence and investigations confidential. Many are wading through the uncharted waters of how to allow officers privacy when parts of their lives are more public than ever. “It might be innocent, but the individual police officer isn’t the person to make that decision,” said Second Deputy Chief Michael Falvo of the Detroit Police Department. Depending on what they write or post, an officer could be breaking confidentiality, undermining an investigation, or worse — potentially violating someone’s constitutional rights, he said.