A public relations campaign on Twitter started by the New York Police Department, #myNYPD, migrated west to Los Angeles this week. The campaign was intended to highlight the positive relationship between New Yorkers and the law enforcement agency but backfired when people took to the social media site to complain about alleged police abuses. Less than 48 hours later, the LAPD also became a target.
The NYPD asked its residents to share friendly photos of police and the community on Twitter using the #myNYPD hashtag. Instead, people posted photos of police engaging in aggressive arrests and beatings of citizens, including clashes with Occupy Wall Street protestors.
The backlash quickly spread to other cities , including Los Angeles. Photos surfaced of the 1991 Rodney King beatings, the 2007 May Day protest beatings in McArthur Park and critical messages of high-profiled police shootings such as the one of two newspaper delivery women during last year's manhunt for ex-LAPD officer Christopher Dorner.
“A lot of the information that was posted or was re-posted was old material,” LAPD Lt. Andy Neiman said, “but again, that gives us a sense that we need to do better in terms of our outreach and interaction with the community.”
Neiman said the department is not directly responding to the Twitter messages publicly online but they are watching the social media feeds for claims against officers that should be investigated.
Pete White, c0-founder of the Los Angeles Community Action Network, said he started using the #myLAPD hashtag to give a voice to people who have had negative experiences with the Los Angeles Police Department.
"It is my hope that communities will begin to interrogate, sort of, this war-like mentality that's often times deployed in poor communities across the globe and, of course, across the country," White said.
Other California cities such as San Francisco and Oakland have earned similar hashtags: #mySFPD, #myOPD. People are using #myCPD for Chicago.
NYC police commissioner Bill Bratton, former LAPD chief, told New York city press that he isn't upset by the social media campaign failure and welcomes the attention.