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Following Internal Investigation, NYPD IDs Officers Responsible for Wikipedia Edits
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18 Mar 2015 10:53 AM EST

-by Yuliya Geikhman, Staff Writer; Image: The officers who edited Wikipedia entries have been identified. (Image Source: Christian Schnettelker / www.manoftaste.de)

Earlier this week, a number of major edits to Wikipedia pages on alleged police brutality were traced to the New York Police Department headquarters. The NYPD has identified the officers responsible for the edits, although it’s unlikely that they will get punished for it.

Along with some unrelated Wikipedia edits, the police brutality edits came to the public’s attention due to the nature of the things changed. For instance, the “Death of Eric Garner” Wikipedia page had the following notable edits, among others:

● “Garner raised both his arms in the air” was changed to “Garner flailed his arms about as he spoke.”

● “Use of the chokehold has been prohibited” was changed to “Use of the chokehold is legal, but has been prohibited.”

● The sentence, “Garner, who was considerably larger than any of the officers, continued to struggle with them,” was added.

● Instances of the word “chokehold” were replaced twice, once to “chokehold or headlock,” and once to “respiratory distress.”

When confronted with the changed, the NYPD denied officially making the edits, and launched an internal investigation into the matter.

Two officers have been identified thanks to the investigation. Their names have been withheld, but DNAinfo reports that the two do not work in Police Headquarters, and are not assigned to the same unit. They were, however, “using department equipment to access Wikipedia and make entries,” Commissioner Bill Bratton stated, adding that, “I don’t anticipate any punishment, quite frankly.”

Editing Wikipedia entries is the officers’ “First Amendment right,” said one source. But doing it on department computers is not.

“We are quite clear that when you are using city computers it is supposed to be for city business. This was not authorized business,” Mayor Bill de Blasio said on the subject.

The two officers have received a minor reprimand for their actions.

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