The Edmonton Police Service said it will be reviewing its social media practices and accounts after a Facebook post in December drew a lot of negative attention.
During Thursday’s police commission meeting, Chief Dale McFee answered questions about a controversial post on the Edmonton Police canine unit’s Facebook page from December.
The now-deleted post detailed the arrest of a naked man who broke into a Home Depot on Christmas Eve and was caught by a police service dog. The post was widely criticized for being insensitive.
“It doesn’t reflect the values of the EPS,” McFee said.
The police chief, however, defended the use of the police dog to take down the suspect.
“It was a commercial break and enter of a serious violent offender on meth. Like all other canine engagements, that part will be reviewed,” he explained.
The post, however, he said was not acceptable.
“It didn’t need to be posted the way it was,” he said.
“That was not the canine handler. That was somebody different and that individual has been spoken to about his behaviour in relation to posting and I think we’ve gotten to a good outcome on that and we consider this closed.”
During Thursday’s meeting, the head of communications for EPS said it’s undergoing a “complete review” of its social media accounts.
“We’re also looking at how many accounts we have. Do we have the right accounts? We are looking at quality over quantity, making sure that they abide by our social media policy, that they have the right training,” Michael James said.
It wasn’t the first time a social media post on EPS channels received backlash.
In August, a video on the EPS community engagement TikTok struck a nerve.
It showed an officer impersonating Stone Cold Steve Austin — a professional wrestler known for beer drinking.
In the video, the officer caught what was later clarified as water before driving off.
Text on the video read: “When you get a text from your wife that a guy is at home picking up your daughter for a date”.
“It doesn’t seem like they have a strong social media plan in place,” said social media strategist Brittney Le Blanc.
She said EPS online policies should have been reviewed a while ago and suggested the force focuses on being informative rather than trendy.
“I don’t think that this is just to blame on one person,” Le Blanc said.
“I don’t think it just comes down to communications. I think this is a problem with the culture within EPS completely.”
It was suggested Thursday social media posts on Edmonton Police accounts should go through a vetting process — a practice EPS admits is not mandatory.
Le Blanc said that should be rule number one.
“I think you want to have that sober second opinion that can say maybe we don’t post this, maybe we don’t write this kind of content,” Le Blanc added.