One of the most interesting things about Bill Bratton going to London to advise the British government on policing their post-riot societal strife, is that the former LAPD chief now has a huge international media contingent hanging on his every word. He’s now known around the world as the “US Supercop.” Yesterday, he used his Supercop powers for the forces of good. Bratton advised his new international following that shutting down social media in crisis situations is not justifiable–arguing it could hurt “good people.”
“You have the potential to throw the whole community into even more critical shock,” he told a British parliamentary committee, referring to his own experiences of trying to contact family in the aftermath of the September 11 attacks.
He said social networking also helped the authorities warn people about where disturbances were occurring, while the police themselves often relied on the likes of Blackberry.
“There’s no denying in policing … that we are attempting to play catch up with (technology’s) impact,” he said.
We would have preferred Bratton to take a more principled stand on social media shutdowns, rather than a pragmatic one. But with the Occupy Wall Street movement spreading, we’re just glad to see America’s preeminent police figure tell the world that Hosni Mubarak-style crackdowns are not an acceptable form of policing.