The two veteran police officers who allegedly used department computers to change Wikipedia pages on several high profile police abuse cases, including the death of Eric Garner will face no indictment and a minor reprimand.
The NYPD Officers are expected to be spoken to by Internal Affairs Bureau investigators, but without any additional infractions, they will not face any punishment for modifying the Wikipedia pages on the high profile case.
Commissioner Bill Bratton said,
“About the two officers, who have been identified, were using department equipment to access Wikipedia and make entries, I don’t anticipate any punishment, quite frankly. The NYPD doesn’t have a policy specific to accessing Wikipedia but is in the process of reviewing its social media rules to give additional guidance to its personnel.”
Law Enforcement sources insist that because Wikipedia is a publicly accessed and edited web encyclopedia, it is not inappropriate for the NYPD officers to visit pages and edit references they believe are technically inaccurate, adding “It is their First Amendment right”.
Mayor Bill de Blasio said,
“We are quite clear that when you are using city computers it is supposed to be for city business. This was not authorized business.”
Even though Capital New York reported that 85 IP addresses registered to 1 Police Plaza logged hundreds of edits to Wikipedia entries on victims of alleged police brutality, dating back for 10 years that include pages for the “Death of Eric Garner,” “Stop-and-Frisk,” “Sean Bell” and “Amadou Diallo.”
The NYPD claims that it only maintains its computer log records to trace connection use for a year at a time and have tracked the two NYPD veterans logins that modified the Eric Garner Wikipedia page. Including the Eric Garner entry that was edited on Dec. 3, 2014, after the Staten Island grand jury decided not to indict NYPD officer Daniel Pantaleo for his death.
Edits to the Wikipedia page regarding Eric Garner included replacing “Garner raised both his arms in the air” to “Garner flailed his arms about as he spoke,” and the sentence “Garner, who was considerably larger than any of the officers, continued to struggle with them,” was also added to the Wikipedia entry.
Two additional Wikipedia edits included “chokehold” changed to “respiratory distress” and “chokehold headlock”
In response to this the NYPD plans to distribute new smart phones to all its officers this year and the officers will be reminded at that time that the patrol guide prohibits any personal use on department phones and computers.