During a City Council hearing Thursday on the NYPD’s budget, police officials deflected questions about the department’s use of social media to sometimes go after politicians, protesters and journalists.

Posts by top brass are being probed by the city’s Department of Investigation amid calls for discipline and accountability within the department.

What You Need To Know

  • The City Council held a hearing on Thursday to examine the NYPD's budget

  • The hearing included many questions over the department's use of social media

  • Police officials deflected questions surrounding controversial social media posts by top brass, citing a Department of Investigation probe into the issue

Police officials refused to answer any questions related to the topic.

“There is a DOI investigation. We think it’s important that be allowed to play out,” Deputy Commissioner of Legal Matter Michael Gerber said.

Chief of Patrol John Chell recently criticized Councilwoman Tiffany Cabán, a progressive lawmaker, on social media for her support of student protestors — with the post seemingly including a call to action against her.

The post ends with “seek the change you want by getting involved. Then you know what to do.”

When pressed specifically about posts made by Chell, officials again referred to the investigation. 

“Do you feel the post should have been deleted? Do you feel it was deleted improperly? Do you feel it should have come back?” City Council Speaker Adrienne Adams asked. “Commissioner, do you feel the post was appropriate or should have been deleted?”

“It’s inappropriate for me to comment while the process is ongoing,” NYPD Commissioner Edward Caban said in response to the questions.

On Wednesday, the Department of Investigation launched a probe into the police department’s “relevant social media use and exchanges.” The probe comes after the city council speaker and the Legal Aid Society asked for the investigation.

Chell was not present at the hearing on Thursday, neither were his colleagues, Deputy Commissioner of Operations Kaz Daughtry or Deputy Commissioner of Public Information, Tarik Sheppard. 

At one point, Chief of Department Jeff Maddrey tried to get local lawmakers to move on from the issue.

“The speaker took us through a line of questioning this morning. Our counsel spoke, we want to move on from social media. We want to talk about other issues. We want to talk about crime, about the things we’re doing.” 

Police officials said that, in total, the NYPD has over 250 social media accounts with posts reviewed by the Office of Public Information. 

Councilwoman Cabán later said the posts raise alarms about accountability at the NYPD. 

“A few things folks should be concerned about. One, who is watching this stuff? And two, either Commissioner Caban is saying ‘this is okay, I’m condoning it’ or encouraging it or he doesn’t have control over his top brass,” Cabán said.

Separately, when it came to budget talks, councilmembers focused on overtime in the department. 

Police officials said, as of the end of March, they have spent nearly $800 million in overtime over the last fiscal year. They claim policing protests over the war in Gaza has been expensive.

“We’re closing in on 3,000 protests since Oct. 7,” Maddrey said.

The city’s Civilian Complaint Review Board announced Wednesday that nearly 40 police officers are facing allegations in connection to their behavior during the protests. 

The CCRB said they received 20 complaints related to the demonstrations. Five of the complaints relate to protests on college campuses.