NYPD social media posts under probe from city investigator

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NYPD officers arrested pro-Palestinian protesters on college campuses, while NYPD leaders criticized them on social media.

Now, social media posts from top NYPD officials are the subject of an inquiry by the Department of Investigation after requests from the Legal Aid Society and City Council Speaker Adrienne Adams.

“NYPD executives have been using social media accounts, the official social media accounts, as a cudgel to spread misinformation, malign protestors, chill future protests and more,” Jennvine Wong, a supervising attorney of the Cop Accountability Project at the Legal Aid Society, said.

Wong penned a letter to the NYPD inspector general at the Department of Investigation and cited social media posts, including one from NYPD Chief of Patrol John Chell that said some students face “underlying radical indoctrination” and highlighting a sign that read in part, “death to America.”

Another post cited in the letter came from the account of NYPD Deputy Commissioner Kaz Daughtry that referred to “the tools of agitators, of people who were working on something nefarious.”

“This kind of use of an official department social media account is wholly unprofessional, as well as unethical,” Wong said.

DOI spokeswoman Diane Struzzi said, “In light of the requests, DOI has begun an investigation of the relevant social media use and exchanges, as well as applicable city policies. As this is ongoing, DOI declines further comment.”

In response, Kayla Mamelak, a spokeswoman for the mayor’s office, said, “It is clear that a small number of advocates and councilmembers — who have gone unchallenged in using their social media to make disparaging comments against the hardworking public servants of our city — only support speech that is politically convenient for them. We hope this DOI review includes the unprofessional actions of the small number of councilmembers who have engaged in this behavior.”

Speaker Adams, in her letter requesting an investigation, wrote that the NYPD’s posts could be “construed as intimidating and dangerous.” She singled out NYPD Chief of Patrol Chell in a separate statement.

Chell has criticized reporters and recently, Councilwoman Tiffany Cabán, a progressive Queens Democrat, accusing her of supporting criminal conduct of student protesters, calling it a “colossal disgrace.”

“A high-ranking official coming after you online, whether it be a reporter, a politician or just a critic, that could be something that a regular person could feel intimidated by, they could feel afraid of,” said John Macari, a retired NYPD lieutenant and host of the podcast, New York’s Finest: Retired & Unfiltered.

Chell, meanwhile, nearly waded into political terrain, the Whitestone Republican Club in Queens promoted his appearance at an event Wednesday night, called “NYC in Crisis.”

An NYPD rep said Chell won’t be attending the event and took him off the flyer promoting it.

Councilwoman Vickie Paladino, a Queens Republican, is president of the Whitestone Republican Club, and said in a statement to NY1 that Chell’s appearance went through her government office and with appropriate paperwork and approvals, in accordance with rules.

“This was not a fundraiser or a political appearance, this was standard community outreach to discuss issues important to the people of New York City at an event open to the general public,” she said. “We have hosted police leadership on several occasions, and this is not an uncommon practice throughout the city.”