Internet Safety

Social Media Quick Tip: How you & your agency can stay safe while using social media

Staying safe online is about connecting and sharing with those you trust

Editor’s note: The SMILE (Social Media, the Internet and Law Enforcement) Conference provides officers with all the technical hands-on skills and the practical knowledge to utlitze social media platforms for public outreach, crime prevention and forensics. The conference is a great opportunity for those involved in social media efforts to share suggestions and stories on this ever-changing topic. Below you will find social media tips from one of the speakers at the conference.

The world of social media has opened another sphere in regards to safety and reputation management. These days you don’t need an online account to experience the emotional impact of digital abuse. These incidents can appear without warning and have a devastating effect on the lives of your family and friends.

Staying safe online is about connecting and sharing with those you trust. These tips can help deter bad experiences and give support if issues arise.

• If you’re new to social media, take your time to learn about the site and locate the report/block options.
• Talk with family and friends on what part they play regarding posting online, especially as it may reflect on you.
• Check your account and security settings.
• Turn off GPS and Facial Recognition capabilities.
• Set up Google Alerts in your name and rank.
• Stay educated by signing up with trusted sites for the latest information and tips to keep you safer online.

Janita Docherty is a trained Crime Prevention Executive with more than 18 years experience in the field of law and criminal investigation. She specialises in Facebook and Internet Safety instruction and is recognised for her work with law enforcement Units dedicated in the fields of E-Crime, Sex Crime, State Intelligence and Tactical Intelligence areas. Janita has an intricate knowledge on the workings of Facebook from a criminal intelligence perspective and is a leader in her field regarding Facebook training to Police and specialist law enforcement departments both in Australia and the United States.

Law Enforcement Agencies Using ComputerCOP Software to Address Internet Safety

An innovative and unique parental internet monitoring software program called ComputerCOP is assisting many agencies in their community policing, internet safety/ anti-cyber bullying and agency marketing efforts. This inexpensive, yet extremely powerful and easy to use customizable software is purchased by an agency which then distributes it to parents at no cost to the parents. An agency may purchase it from its own budget, with US DOJ G.R.E.A.T. program funds, COP grants or available seized asset forfeiture funds.

Several agencies ranging from the US Marshals Service, the Alaska Department of Public Safety, the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office, as well as numerous Florida sheriffs’ offices and ICAC participating agencies have all utilized ComputerCOP software in their community policing efforts to help protect the families they serve, from the inherent dangers of the internet.

LA County DA Steve Cooley distributed the ComputerCOP software to thousands of foster and adoptive families in LA County during his “Protecting Our Kids” countywide initiative with great success. DA Cooley also received an overwhelming positive response from the community and stated “ComputerCOP is an effective way for parents to monitor their children’s online activities and protect them from dangerous images, information and on line predators.”

Michael R. Moore, Beadle County, SD States Attorney states “this software is one way we have found in which we can assist parents in monitoring their children on the Internet. By having the ability to see where your children are visiting on the Internet, you can ensure they are not subjected to images that are not appropriate or going to sites that lend themselves to on-line predators. I would like to thank the sponsors for their support in this program.”

Palm Beach County (FL) Sheriff’s Office Lt. Mike Reardon says “some parents don’t understand how a computer works and they don’t realize how often children are victimized online. This is very simple. No stress,” Reardon said.

Called ComputerCOP, the software quickly scans a personal computer for crime related words, gang terms, pornography, reviews images and videos and saves emails and chats. PBC Sheriff Ric Bradshaw said that one out of 10 children is solicited for sexual reasons online but only one in 30 cases gets reported. “It’s looking for things we don’t want the kids to be involved in,” Bradshaw said.

Nearly all of our law enforcement customers’ report back to the company that they’ve all garnered very positive media response, as well as tremendous community support from concerned parents who are tired of hearing the essentially useless adage of “make sure you put the computer in an area where you can view it from”. With a free ComputerCOP CD in hand, the parents now own a tool which easily enables and empowers them to truly monitor their children on their computer and help reduce the dangers of the Internet!

Officers who wish to obtain additional ComputerCOP information or to receive a free working software sample may contact me @ 1 800 210 4209 x 222 or email me at Jim@ComputerCOP.com.

About the author: James F. Marr is a retired Los Angeles County Deputy Sheriff and a member of the IACP/DuPont Kevlar Survivors Club. Jim directs the marketing efforts for the ComptuterCOP Software Corp. in Bohemia, NY. The ComputerCOP Software was developed to significantly increase parents ability to safely monitor their childrens’ on line activity. Hundreds of law enforcement agencies have distributed this US DOJ G.R.E.A.T. Program approved software free to their residents in their community policing/outreach Internet safety initiatives, which almost always garners their agencies very postive community and media support.

SMILE Conference Huge Success In Santa Monica, Next Stop Chicago

social media & law enforcement

The SMILE Conference held 01/10/11 to 01/12/11 in Santa Monica, California was a huge success. Beyond the fact that the conference sold out and there were more sponsors (Raytheon, Alderson Software/Crime Stoppers, Securitas) than the initial SMILE conference in Washington D.C. 04/2010, this conference was hosted graciously by the Santa Monica Police Department at the awesome Rand Center. The sponsors and accommodations were great, but the speakers and attendees were really what made this conference awesome. There were over 120 attendees representing 5 different countries and law enforcement agencies all over the United States as well as the world.

The expertise that was shared from Chief Jackman (Santa Monica P.D.) to Mike Bostic (Raytheon) and all speakers in between was intimidating to me as a fellow speaker. As a speaker you would assume you are on the same level as the other speakers, but for me personally I ended up learning much more than I shared. Not surprising, but a particularly interesting presentation for me was Mike Bostic’s presentation on “LTE and What it Means to Public Safety: a Convergence of All Internet Capabilities” had my mind spinning. Another area I was not nearly as knowledgeable of was “Cyber Bullying.” Tuesday’s speakers focused on the topic of “Cyber Bullying” and other internet crimes such as child pornography, sexual predators, and other sex related crimes. The speaker caliber for Tuesday’s presentations was top notch as were the speakers for all days presentations.

I am honored to have been a speaker at both SMILE Conferences thus far and I am looking forward to participating in the next SMILE Conference in Chicago May 9th-11th 2011, to be hosted by the Chicago Police Department.

Cyberbullying Woes Require Attention, Action

Cyberbullying occurs when someone is threatened, harassed, humiliated, embarrassed or otherwise targeted by another person over the Internet, cell phones or other electronic devices. Research suggests that as many as 25 percent of children in the United States report have been subjected to cyberbullying. It can occur as a direct attack or by proxy. Direct attacks are messages sent directly to victim, whereas cyberbullying by proxy involves getting others to help with the bullying.

Cyberbullying includes playing tricks by pretending to be someone else, spreading rumors, forwarding malicious electronic messages, posting sexually explicit pictures or messages (sexting) without the consent of the targeted person. Many times, teens who cyberbully don’t think it’s a big deal. They are frequently encouraged by their friends who also think it’s just fun. They don’t expect to get caught or face any consequences for their actions.

Although it is difficult for school administrators and school resource officers (SROs) to successfully discipline students for cyberbullying that takes place off campus without being sued for exceeding their authority and violating the students’ rights, it is possible for schools to work together with law enforcement, students, parents and staff to address cyberbullying.

Local law enforcement and school resource officers (SROs) should become aware of these occurrences and address them proactively to prevent more dire situations that can result from cyberbullying such as suicides, retaliation or other acts of violence.

Here are a few keys to combating cyber bullying in your area:

  1. Educate – Students need to understand that cyberbullying IS a crime. After all, the acts that fall under the traditional definition of bullying are often prosecuted as harassment, theft, and assault. Many of the consequences are the same and cyberbullying can be just as harmful as some of these offenses. Once students start to think of cyberbullying as a crime, it may deter participation.
  2. Keep your eyes open – Law enforcement should take the initiative to talk with administration, staff and parents to help identify and address cases of cyberbullying early. Often, parents are not even aware of how their child may be using the home computer or their cell phone. It is the parents’ job to monitor their kids and to help thwart this kind of activity. School staff can report suspected incidences to SROs, giving them leads to investigate and the ability to intervene early.
  3. Open door policy – The school should maintain an “open door policy,” encouraging students to report abuses, whether they are the ones being bullied or they are aware of an incident. This is a great way for school administrators, SROs and, if warranted, law enforcement to become aware of cyberbullying activities and also enables them to intervene before situations escalate.
  4. Leverage social media – Depending on the social media site and the situation, SROs can open accounts under an alias to help monitor online activities. This is another way to increase awareness of cyberbullying activities.

With a proactive approach, cyberbullying can be addressed and minimized. There are resources available to assist students, schools and parents with this pervasive issue. The Cyberbullying Research Center is dedicated to providing up-to-date information about the nature, extent, causes, and consequences of cyberbullying among adolescents. The important thing is to take a proactive stance.

About the authors:

Rosalind Jackson

ROSALIND W. JACKSON is owner of Train Intervene PreventT, a consulting business that caters to proactive organizations focusing on workplace violence prevention strategies. She is production manager for the Security Executive Council, an organization that provides strategy, insight and resources to risk mitigation decision makers, and also serves as a source of information and support in matters involving workplace violence. Jackson can be reached at tiprevent@bellsouth.net.



Jeff Floreno

JEFF FLORENO serves as director of security operations and strategy for Wren, providers of physical security solutions that create safe learning environments. Floreno directs new product development efforts and provides security expertise to Wren’s education customers. Floreno can be reached at jeff.floreno@wrensolutions.com. To learn more about Wren’s solutions, visit www.wrensolutions.com.


This article was also published on Wren’ School Safety Blog.

Related articles:

Chatroulette founder says he’s calling the cops

Chatroulete has been around for less then a year but immediately became a haven for perverts. The service was built by 17 year old Andrey Ternovskiy, from Moscow. Users with a webcam installed log in and have random conversations with people all over the world and randomly enough, you come face to face with some guy’s penis. Estimates are from 10-13 percent of Chatroulette users fit this pervert profile.

Ternovskiy just announced he wants help from law enforcement. He’s collecting IP addresses, screen shots and logos and plans to report inappropriate behavior to law enforcement, just exactly which law enforcement agency doesn’t seem to be specified. With all the international aspects, what law enforcement agency could actually handle such cases? There’s no question that many local and national pornography and indecency laws are being broken through the content being transmitted. But how would any police agency really enforce them, especially given the lack of information required to open a Chatroulette account? The victim could be in one country, the pervert in a second and the Chatroulette servers, likely in yet another. It isn’t at all clear that Ternovskiy’s collection of IP addresses is really going to GO anywhere.

The site also bears the warning:

“Broadcasting inappropriate content to minors is a violation of both US and UN law. We are actively cooperating with law enforcement agencies.”


While the video chat service has been severely criticized for its illicit content, it has also received significant notoriety for all the nudity. Jon Stewart has a made good fun of the site  and SouthPark has parodied it, among others. Without all the attention over the lewd content, we may never have heard of it.

Ternovskiy, and others have made minor attempts before this to address the problem. He added a report feature banning a user if he is reported 3 times by another user. Business Insider ran a contest earlier in this year with the intent to help Chatroulette pantless predicament. The story, “Chatroulette’s Penis Problem: 8 Cunning Solutions” ran in March, but apparently none of the 8 was the right solution.

Then, in June TechCrunch reported the site was implementing a ‘penis-detection software algorithm”. (Which left me to wonder how would you like to be the guy the software “missed” ie: no penis detected. Probably way too much insight into the working of my brain there).

Ternovskiy is reportedly working a few potential partners to develop new features and figure out a way to turn it into a viable business. Meanwhile, after experiencing explosive growth since its inception 8 months ago, May was the first month visitor numbers were down.   Numbers down or not, it hasn’t gone away and it seems like the attempts to remedy the penis issue are dubious at best. It appears they do more to increase publicity about the site than actually address the issue. It’s still a parental nightmare and a nearly impossible enforcement issue for police.

IMHO: In the end, the responsible party is Ternovskiy himself. As the site’s (underage) owner, he bears responsibility for the content of his site. While Ternovskiy reportedly gave little or no thought to the business application to the site when he built it. His one goal was to make it big in America.