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LAPD's New Blogger Warns Against Anonymous Commenters

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Over at the Los Angeles Police Department's blog, Lieutenant Rick Banks as been assigned as the "Officer in Charge," and in his introduction post, he touts the success of the web tool and how it has been valuable for the department. But he goes on with a warning to those anonymous finger pointers. "The blog allows you to have a good amount of influence and more with complete anonymity..."

Unfortunately, people take advantage of being anonymous. People find it very easy to make accusatory remarks and point fingers at others without having to provide complete, factual and accurate background information or context and that is irresponsible. On occasion, I have been unable to publish several comments because they included explicit, inappropriate or slanderous language and were personal attacks. I will not post a comment that will help perpetuate a rumor or an unfounded accusation. The Department welcomes differences of opinion, and those opinions will be published as long as they are well within the guidelines of the disclaimer. You can illustrate how strongly you feel about a topic without the use of profanities or abbreviations of profanity. This will make it easier for me to publish your opinions, maximizing the impact of your comment and inspiring others to share their thoughts.

We welcome Lt. Banks to the blogging community and hope that he takes the lead to do outreach to other blogs and community members/groups
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like the Los Angeles Fire Department does.

We also leave him with this tough question and conversation topic: In a public run forum, no matter the content and beyond "community standards", is it legal to censor comments? We ask because at the City of Santa Clarita, north of Los Angeles, a topic of discussion with city attorneys breached this very same topic of dealing with public submissions on the web. The attorney's said it's a first amendment issue and that you either leave it open or you close it. It's not a two-way road.