Two officers who made changes to Wikipedia entries regarding high-profile NYPD cases, including the deaths of Eric Garner and Sean Bell, likely won't be punished, Police Commissioner Bill Bratton said Monday.
Bratton, speaking with Mayor de Blasio, said that the department had identified two officers who made unauthorized edits to Wikipedia in the past several months. He said they won't be reprimanded beyond being advised on proper use of department and city computers.
“I don’t anticipate any punishment, being quite frank with you, other than the admonishment advising them on department policy," Bratton said.
Bratton said the department is looking at revising its internet and social media policies. Currently, the department uses a "three-tier" system to determine which sites officers can access.
De Blasio added that the officers involved violated city computer policies by using municipal computers for personal business but added that they are free to do express their opinions while off the clock, including on Wikipedia.
Capital New York reported last week that dozens of Wikipedia pages had been edited from Internet Protocol addresses apparently connected to NYPD precincts and 1 Police Plaza. Edits were made to off-topic Wikipedia entries, including ones for the band Chumbawumba and croissants, and to pages that directly related to the department.
Capital found that several changes had been made to an entry titled "The Death of Eric Garner," swapping two instances word "chokehold" to "chokehold or headlock" and "respiratory distress," and changing language to soften the portrayal of officers involved in the confrontation with Garner.
In another instance, Capital says a user with an NYPD IP address tried to have the entire entry about the death of Sean Bell, a man who was shot more than 50 times by police in in Queens the night before his wedding in 2006, deleted.
"'Delete': He was in the news for about two months, and now no one except Al Sharpton cares anymore. The police shoot people every day, and times with a lot more than 50 bullets. This incident is more news than notable," the request read.
To see the full list of edits traced back to NYPD computers, click here.