FORT LAUDERDALE, FL – A police officer has been suspended for using the Twitter social media network while on duty and to criticize his superiors.
Fort Lauderdale Police Officer Luis Pagan was relieved of duties with pay effective Jan. 31.
“Please be advised that effective Tuesday, January 31, 2012, Police Officer Luis Pagan has been relieved from duty with pay,” wrote Sergeant Dana Swisher, acting head of Fort Lauderdale Police’s internal affairs division in a 1-page memo circulated within the department.
Efforts to reach Pagan were unsuccessful and the Fraternal Order of Police union that is representing him could not be reached for comment.
The six-year veteran had been under investigation over his tweets with porn stars and accounts of his encounters while on duty, as first reported by the South Florida Times in its Nov. 24 edition.
Pagan deleted his tweets and closed his Twitter account following the publication of that story, but not before the newspaper documented his activities.
At the time, Pagan had tweeted 3,576 times, had 84 followers on Twitter and was following 184 people.
Pagan came under scrutiny after tweeting on Oct 12: “Just caught a couple having sex in their car in a church parking lot. The car was shaking so much I thought it would flip.”
An avid diver, Pagan’s handle on Twitter was SoFlo_Diver. His tweets included exchanges with porn stars and links to nude photos of them. The messages were sometimes raunchy and laced with profanity.
Pagan was also critical of his supervisors and people he encountered while on duty.
“I wonder how a supervisor feels when no one in his specialty unit respects him,” he tweeted about an unnamed supervisor on Oct. 6. That was followed on Oct. 10 with, “He is a racist (expletive deleted).”
He used profanity in another tweet to describe his employer.
“Came to work just got hit with some (expletive deleted). U know what, I say (expletive deleted) the city,” he posted on Oct. 28. “Instead of trying to make a name for yourself trying to hurt good officers u should be worrying about what to do to lower Crime.”
The Fort Lauderdale police department implemented a social media policy for employees last July. While the policy does not prohibit the use of social media sites such as Twitter, MySpace and Facebook, it restricts what employees may communicate on those sites, even while not at work.
According to the policy, employees are not supposed to “utilize any city issued equipment to access personal social media sites, blogs, websites, or public forums while on duty, or while working off-duty details unless required in the performance of their duties.”
One section of the policy states: “The Department recognizes the role that social media plays in the personnel (sic) lives of some Department personnel; however, the personal use of social media can have bearing on Departmental personnel in their official capacity.”
Such orders are commonplace following investigations where other adverse personnel actions, including termination, are under consideration.
Pagan has been with the department since 2005 and earns $77,771.20 annually. He works in the patrol division and has a good employment history.
From The South Florida Times.