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“It’s a medium that people are using, and that’s why we wanted to jump on board,” Lauth said.

Occasionally, Mt. Lebanon police receive messages that should have gone to a 911 dispatcher, Lauth said. Several officers can access Facebook from their smartphones and respond while on the road, but Lauth and others post frequent reminders that Facebook is not a replacement for dialing 911.

“Police departments have to educate the public on the proper use of social media,” Gaskew said, and send the message that police aren’t monitoring the social media site continuously.

Police departments should educate officers on the proper use of social media, Gaskew said. Fewer than half of departments have social media policies, he said, and that needs to change.

Defense attorneys have used posts from an officer’s personal Facebook page to discredit or impeach testimony at trial, Gaskew said. The chiefs association warns officers to think about each post and picture.

Monroeville police have a social media policy, but it needs to be updated, Cole said.

“We need to look at it, too - what can you and what can you not disseminate?” Cole said. “This is technology jumping us again.”




Information from: Pittsburgh Tribune-Review,