Should the Palo Alto Police Department post mugshots of arrestees on social networking sites? YES

Recent Palo Alto Police Department’s Facebook post of Palo Alto High School student sparks debate on the ethics, the necessity of posting photos of those recently arrested on social networking sites such as Facebook

Social media has long been a medium for news; it is the public’s right to know what is going on in their community, including crime.

After unfortunate events concerning a Palo Alto High School student, the Palo Alto Police Department’s  (PAPD) use of social media, namely Facebook and Twitter, and its policy concerning mugshots have come under criticism.

However, so long as the police department has substantiated evidence and is not violating any of the rights of a minor, it has the prerogative and the duty to inform community members of societal transpirations and crimes.

Let us not forget that these people are, in the eyes of the laws, criminals. The PAPD clearly states that it only proactively updates its news mediums for crimes of certain natures. These include: felony crimes that occur in public, select felony crimes that occur in private homes, sex crimes that occur in public, sex- or child-related cases or significant crime trends and associated arrests.

All of the crimes clearly stated have a common thread — they are victimizing crimes, meaning that someone involved has been significantly injured in some way. If an individual has committed one of these crimes, regardless of his or her prior reputation in the community, he or she deserves to be associated with their actions and face the ramifications of his or her actions.

Further, depending on the criminal’s age, the PAPD has a clearly set protocol it must follow without exception.

The legal definition of a minor is a person under the age of 18. I don’t think that anyone will contend their minor policy, where they release neither their name, photo nor name of the school attended. I think this is reasonable, as many people do.

Although I agree that maturity is not defined by a number, I worry that exceptions breed more exceptions and thereby I support the PAPD’s policy of those considered legal adults.

If someone argues that one particular case should be considered differently, then what has become of policy and protocol? Everyone must abide to the same laws and are subject to the same punishment, or else the system would fail.

Also, 18 has always been the age of increased responsibility and consequence. It has not changed in recent years, so there is no excuse. Everyone knows that 18 is the year people legally become an adult and with the increased responsibility that comes with adulthood come more serious consequences. This is just common and well-known knowledge.

If someone commits a victimizing crime and is over 18, there is no excuse for why this information should not be shared. The public has the right to know is a danger in the community and be more cautious.

Furthermore, the PAPD has a right to use social media as a means to better inform the community.

Outlined on its Facebook page, the PAPD only seeks transparancy and safety in our community.

The purpose for releasing this information is to accurately inform the public so they are aware of significant crime in their area and so they can take the necessary precautions not to be victimized if the situation dictates.

The PAPD has the right to post this information on its website to ensure accuracy; by using social media, it could reach more people.

Lastly, people have the choice to “like” the PAPD’s Facebook page and the choice to be informed of the PAPD’s activity. You have the choice not to listen.

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