It all started with what the New York City Police Department thought would be a tech-savvy way to connect with the community. The official Twitter account of the NYPD asked their 100,000 or so followers to tweet pictures of themselves with police officers and use the tag #MyNYPD.
The publicity efforts worked for a little while—until the Internet took over.
Two hours after NYPD started their crowdsourced PR campaign, the New York City branch of Occupy Wall Street shared a photo using the same hashtag with their 169,000 followers.
Their followers and the rest of the Twitterverse quickly joined in.
Now Twitter users in other cities have started their own campaigns to highlight alleged incidents of police brutality from their local police departments.
Oakland has joined in too with #MyOPD.
The #MyNYPD campaign has also inspired tweets overseas.
In the end, the head of the NYPD has spun this PR disaster into a good thing:
“I kind of welcome the attention,” NYPD Commissioner Bill Bratton told NY Daily News on Wednesday as the #myNYPD tweets continued to thrive on Twitter. “We really broke the numbers yesterday.”
A 2010 Associated Press investigation found the NYPD had paid nearly $1 billion in claims against the department from 2000 to 2010.
Bratton, who took over the NYPD on January 1, 2014, brushed off the scenes of police brutality and blamed them on previous administrations.
“Most of the pictures I looked at, they’re old news,” Bratton told the Daily News.