Civil Liberties

Firings of Misbehaving Dallas Cops Announced on Social Media


Tweeted firing
Dallas Police Department

Pink slips come with a hashtag these days as Dallas Police Chief David O. Brown (PDF) takes to Twitter and Facebook to announce the firing of misbehaving employees—and the reasons for their dismissal. Given the extraordinary power that police wield, and some high-profile and controversial abuses by officers in the department, that may be a very public way of establishing that Dallas police are doing something about their problems.

In October, Dallas Police Officer Cardan Spencer got the boot after video footage contradicted his story about a confrontation with a mentally ill man.

And four officers were fired on December 30 for a variety of reasons, including domestic violence, public intoxication, and shooting an unarmed man who had his hands raised in the air.

The officer in that last incident, Senior Corporal Amy Wilburn, lost her job (as did the others) after a hearing before Chief Brown. A statement released on Facebook said, "The Internal Affairs investigation concluded that Senior Corporal Wilburn violated the Department's Use of Deadly Force policy when she fired upon an unarmed person without fear or justification." It then gave a detailed rationale for the department's conclusions.

On his official Twitter feed, Chief Brown announced:

I have terminated SC Amy Wilburn today for firing her weapon upon an unarmed person without fear or justification.

The other firings and disciplinary actions were also tweeted and announced on Facebook.

In an era when police misconduct is commonly caught on video for the YouTube-viewing world to see, announcing via social media that there are consequences for that misbehavior might be a way to rebuild bridges to the public.

Especially if behavior improves.

The Dallas PD has suffered pushback in the past when attempting to hold officers accountable for things like obeying the traffic laws they enforce, so we'll have to see if this experiment lasts.

(H/T to CNet's Chris Matyszczyk)