September 25, 2013 5:58 pm
Updated: September 26, 2013 6:24 am

Edmonton police officer’s tweets lead to investigation

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EDMONTON – An Edmonton police officer’s tweets have landed him in some hot water. The posts were sent from a personal account, but that’s not stopping the Professional Standards Branch from investigating.

Cst. Sam Najmeddine has tweeted less than 300 times, but a few of his posts have arguably pushed the boundaries.

For instance, one of his tweets in late January read: “Babysitting suicidal patient #royalalexandrahospital, another cup of this lousy coffee and I may join him lol.”

He also retweeted a comment this past May that said, “Why are we still testing on animals where there are paedophiles in prison?”

On the account, Najmeddine identified himself as a police officer and was initially using a police car as his profile picture before changing it.

Screen grab of Sam Najmeddine’s Twitter account before he deactivated it.

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The Professional Standards Branch of the Edmonton Police Service is now investigating a formal complaint that’s been filed against the tweets stemming from the account, which has since been deactivated.

“It’s the first (formal complaint) that we know of…but I expect that it won’t be the last,” says President of the Edmonton Police Association, Tony Simioni.

While the EPS does not appear to have specific rules when it comes to officers’ personal Twitter accounts, they are encouraged to use caution when posting on social media.

“Just to protect their own privacy and safety, as well as the privacy and safety of others,” explains Carolin Maran, the EPS’ website and social media coordinator.

In recent years, the Edmonton police has had a number of its officers use professional accounts to interact with people and give them an inside look into how the force deals with certain situations. The officers who participate in the program undergo special training, during which they’re told what’s acceptable to tweet, and what isn’t.

According to Simioni, the punishment for violating the corporate social media policy can range from a warning to a dismissal, depending on the severity of the situation.

“It’s something I think all of our members need a wakeup call on, and realize there’s a policy and know that policy going forward.”

Social media consultant Walter Schwabe of Fused Logic works with companies to help prevent this type of situation. He says employees should be aware of the potential implications of what they post online.

“Especially with the case of humour, people are looking to get a reaction and in this case, you know, I think obviously some folks took exception to that; I don’t think we are going to learn from our mistakes. I think people recognize there are different parameters for what people find funny.”

To avoid Twitter-remorse, Schwabe recommends thinking twice before you tweet.

“Is this something you want your mom to hear? Is this something that you want to be a headline tomorrow? If not, maybe give it a second thought.”

“Twitter is a public platform, make no mistake about it,” he adds. “It ampifies communications faster than probably anything else on the planet..so corporations have to be aware that 140 characters could turn into tomorrow’s headline, and, in fact, that’s what’s happened in this case.”

Read more: How our online lives put our professional lives at risk

With files from Tom Vernon, Global News

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