Kicking off The SMILE Conference is an honor, but my real pride rests with the Social Media presence of the Arcadia Police Department.Â There is no doubtÂ it is imperative for law enforcement agencies to participate in the world of Social Media, but moreover, if we are to participate – we must engage!Â Sitting on the sidelines listening or creating accounts only in name, simply scratches the surface of Social Media.Â Our naysayers believe that law enforcement acts like â€śbig brotherâ€ť and only uses Social Media as the latest intelligence tool to gather information.Â True engagement with your community and beyond is what todayâ€™s law enforcement needs.Â Law enforcement leaders can discuss credibility andÂ transparency, but the true testament to these traits can only be shown through action.
I willÂ give SMILE participants a brief look into our version of an engaged agency.Â There are many ways to conduct business, many ways to research and develop strategy, and many ways to then implement your plan.Â However, this process can be a difficultÂ one for many reasons:Â ”old school” peers or administrators; lack of source information and working examples; fearÂ of the untested; or simply saying, “let someone else do it first.”Â These are just a few of the reasons that Arcadia’sÂ presence began with a rogue police association blog.Â Â Over the course of the following year or two, our administrationÂ began to see the value inÂ Social Media as a developing tool for lawÂ enforcement.Â Today, weÂ continue to buildÂ our presenceÂ in Social Media by participating withÂ anÂ official agency blog, Twitter andÂ Facebook pages, on-going construction of a YouTube channel, and throughÂ networking with other active Social Media participants in many fields, not just limited to law enforcement.Â Â Other tools are also being used to compliment and extend our community engagement,Â such as Nixle (instant communication), Crime Mapping, and traditional avenues likeÂ newsletters andÂ in-person presentations.
Law enforcement tools and technology areÂ ever-changingÂ and evolving.Â Â The differences in training and tools of the trade in my short 25 plus years as a police officer are immense: the revolver andÂ ”speedy loaders” have been shelved; everyÂ officer in the field now has a portable radio, and some, a department PDA orÂ smartphone; we no longer use a ticker tape style machineÂ to conduct warrant checks; our police units have computersÂ with Internet access;Â training is mandated and standardized; introduction of community policing theory has led to newÂ practices; crime analysis is now the norm and predictive policing is the future.Â Â The list could go on, but the point is that Social Media is simply a new tool and applicationÂ that isÂ available for our use.Â TheÂ difference is that Social Media is notÂ limited to law enforcement, it is now a standard in society, and its use hasÂ become an expectation by our community members.Â Unlike jury duty – we are not exempt.
By providing some examples of my experiencesÂ and the journey of the Arcadia Police Department, I hope to make you better prepared to lead your agency along the road to truly creating an engaged agency in today’s world of Social Media.
Sgt Tom Le Veque of Arcadia PD is the first presenter at The SMILE Conference. Le Veque is a law enforcement social media pioneer. He has successfully developed a social media presence for Arcadia PD and has provided example and encouragement to fellow law officers. Sergeant Tom Le Veque has served with the Arcadia Police Department since 1987, promoting to Sergeant in 1991. Prior to that, Tom was a Police Officer for the City of San Marino Police Department from 1984-1987. Tom has been a driving force behind many of Arcadiaâ€™s innovative programs such as Video Parking Enforcement and Neighborhood Speed Watch. Most recently, Sergeant Le Veque has taken the Arcadia Police Department to a new level of community interaction and involvement by developing a web presence with a Department Blog, Facebook, Twitter, and Nixle pages. Arcadia is one of the first agencies in Los Angeles County to truly enter and embrace SMILE. He was recently a panelist at the California Peace Officersâ€™ Association, 2010 Training Symposium.