A branch of Mexico’s police have been banned from publishing photos of themselves in uniform on online social networks, purportedly for their own safety, although that may not be the real reason behind the ban.
The Attorney General’s Office decreed that its investigative arm, the Ministerial Police, may no longer publish unauthorized images of themselves in uniform or carrying police equipment on media networks. Nor may they publish images of police institutions which could be identified, the decree stated, as that this could pose a risk to police safety.
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The news raises the question of whether this new rule has more to do with protecting police or with public relations. There have been several incidents involving corrupt Mexican police and their online footprint on sites like Facebook.
One such incident involved one of the federal police agents suspected of opening fire on his fellow officers in Mexico City airport in June. On his Facebook account, the media found photos of the officer posing with guns and in front of a police vehicle and helicopter. Facebook photos of another police officer arrested while accompanying a Tijuana Cartel leader in January 2011 were republished on sites like Animal Politico. One photo shows him dressed in full police gear, including a mask (see image, above).
The Attorney General’s argument is that any unauthorized photos published of police in uniform represent a safety risk because they could be used by criminal groups to identify agents. The unspoken issue, however, seems to be that these images are embarrassing to the authorities, allowing the media to mock how officers present themselves online.