The Hoboken Police Department got in hot water on Jan. 6 after an unauthorized user of the official police department Twitter account, @HobokenPD, called a resident’s tweet “fake newz.”
The brief controversy began when local resident and Bike Hoboken advocate Chris Adair posted a tweet about a pedestrian who was struck by a car.
“Ugly to see the victim-blaming comments,” she tweeted. “And weird that some of these commentators never think it’s the car driver’s fault. Bikes, scooters, and pedestrians are the ones to blame. I call BS.”
“Ms. Adair, many of your posts are just Fake Newz,” responded the official Hoboken Police Department Twitter account at 4:24 a.m. on Jan. 6. “Nobody is ‘victim blaming’ ‘shaming’ none of those ‘hot button words’ that are designed to stifle and ‘shame’ people for having an opinion. Just saying to use common sense and look both ways, it’s called survival!”
After the now-deleted tweet was posted, residents responded angrily calling the tweet inappropriate and questioning if this was an official tweet from the police department.
Police Chief Ken Ferrante responded on Twitter, stating that the comment was tweeted by someone who is no longer employed by the police department and was not authorized to use the account, adding that the pedestrian was in good condition, and the driver would be issued a summons.
“This wasn’t cool, and the unauthorized user does not work for the Hoboken PD and does not present the views of the HPD,” Ferrante tweeted.
“Any misinformation that the PD needs to dispel, comes right from @Ken Ferrante, which is utilized by me,” Ferrante tweeted. “Currently the @HobokenPD feed is run by 1 officer & I assure you he did not post that at 424am. ”
Ferrante then tweeted assuring residents he would investigate to find out how the former employee had access to the account.
On the evening of Jan. 6 at 5:06 p.m. the police department tweeted that the post was written by a retired officer who used to have access to the department’s Twitter page. Although passwords had been changed after he retired, he still had access on his phone.
“It was a technical error where the retired officer thought he was posting from his new personal account,” tweeted @HobokenPD. “This was not done purposely and LT. John Petrosino, who is the sole moderator of the @HobokenPD account at this time, and Chief Ferrante who is the sole user of @KenFerrante, both have spoken to the retired officer today to ensure he has disconnected his access.”
“The statements made in no way reflect the opinion of the HPD nor the Chief of Police and in fact are opposite to our stance on this specific matter and pedestrian safety in general,” the HPD tweeted, noting that Petrosino and Adair serve together on the city’s Vision Zero Task Force which was created to help the city in its goal to end all injuries and deaths caused by vehicles by 2030.
The department went on to say that the police department does not use anonymous trolling accounts and that the statements were made by a former police officer, now private citizen, “which he is entitled to, if they were posted from a personal account.”
“There was no criminal activity nor malicious hacking that occurred,” the police department tweeted.
Adair later thanked the chief for explaining how the incident occurred, saying that she looks forward to “our continued collaboration to make @CityofHoboken safe for all road users.”