NYPD Says Tweets By Zach Tumin Do Not Reflect Department Policy

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — A tweet by an NYPD deputy commissioner has triggered criticism on Twitter, and now, he’s had to admit it was not a good idea.

As CBS2’s Dick Brennan reported, Zach Tumin is the deputy commissioner of strategic initiatives for the NYPD and in charge of the twitter outreach program.

Tumin said social media is a must-have tool for law enforcement, but this time he got a lesson in how social media can backfire.

Tumin was tweeting about a report from the Treatment Advocacy Center that says untreated mental illness is a growing factor in law enforcement shootings.

The report says at least half the people shot and killed by police each year are believed to have mental health problems.

Tumin tweeted: “This is a real problem, evrywhre…. People off their meds r losing it & wlking into police bullets.”

Legal experts say the department is trying a new way to get its message out, but tripped over its own tweet.

“I think the police department is trying to get out information that is not already out there, so they are trying push back against disinformation and so it may be a bit of an overstatement or an in-artful statement,” said Eugene O’Donnell, with John Jay College of Criminal Justice.

The response in the twitterverse was quick, Brennan reported.

“For someone to ‘wander’ into them wouldn’t they have to be fired? Don’t shoot..there I solved your problem,” said one twitter user.

“Try not shooting people as a first option,” said another.

Tumin then acknowledged those criticisms by tweeting “It was a mangled way to say that encounters btw cops &the mentally ill take training, svcs, & treatment to keep all safe.”

and followed up with: “Thx. My mistake to word it like that, fsure.”

“This was a bad choice of language, but that kind of thing can happen when you are trying to get attention in the social media world,” said O’Donnell. “But he’s apologized and he’s made good on it and I don’t see any long-term, lasting or negative impact.”

For its part the NYPD issued a statement saying that all of Tumin’s tweets are his own, and they don’t reflect the policy of the department.

Tumin did not respond to CBS2’s request for comment.