D.C. Fire and EMS Implements Social Media Restrictions

Union lawyers review policy

By Tom Sherwood and Matthew Stabley
|  Tuesday, Dec 31, 2013  |  Updated 7:08 PM EDT
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News4's Tom Sherwood reports on the D.C. Fire and EMS social media policy.

Tom Sherwood

News4's Tom Sherwood reports on the D.C. Fire and EMS social media policy.

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D.C. Fire and EMS is among the first city government agencies to restrict employees’ social media posts.

The new policy intends to limit publishing of inappropriate, confidential or privileged information online, according to DCFEMS. That includes discriminatory remarks, harassment, retaliation, sexual innuendo, threats of violence or similarly unlawful content. Such posts could result in disciplinary, including termination.

The policy prohibits sharing information obtained through employment with the department or posting any material that could be seen as malicious, obscene or bullying.

When referring to their employment, members of the department must specify that their views are their own and not those of the department or government.

The D.C. firefighters union's lawyers are reviewing the policy to protect its members' individual rights.

“From my quick reading, you know there's a bunch of open-ended statements in the policy,” said Dabney Hudson of DC Fire Local 36. “That's why we're looking to get further clarification.”

Deputy Mayor Paul Quander said all public safety workers have a duty to protect information that could affect investigations and trials. Only official information can be released.

“We want to get the information out but we want it to be in a manner that people can know that it's accurate, that it's verified, that it's trustworthy,” Quander said.

The policy is consistent with that which the Metropolitan Police Department has been using for several years, Quander said.

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