SM Tools

Capturing the Moment

Does the public ever get to know about the good things your officers do on a daily basis? With today’s smart phones it can be as simple as taking a picture or creating a short video. That is exactly what an Omaha Police Officer did when he met up with two fellow officers.

Officers Barnes and Groth rescuing Mayala and Trouble.

Police Officers Barnes and Groth were on duty driving on the interstate on one of the coldest days of the year when they spotted two dogs in traffic. Rather than just driving on down the road, they stopped their cruisers and rescued the dogs. While that is a great story and, one of many that officers perform daily, what makes this moment even better is an officer’s foresight to document it.

When the officers returned with the dogs, a quick 30 second video about the dogs’ rescue and quick picture were taken. Let me just say this again… a 30 second video and a quick snapshot. That’s all the time that it took to make a huge positive impact for our department.

Realizing the value of the picture and video, the officer quickly posted it on the Omaha Police Officers Association Facebook Page under the heading, “ More Evidence… Cops Love Dogs,” and we shared it on the Omaha Police Department’s Facebook Page.

So let’s take a look at the numbers from this one post. At the time of this writing and between the two Facebook pages, the post was shared almost 400 times, had over 250 comments, the majority of which praised officers for saving the dogs, and was seen by 94,000 people! And believe it or not, it was picked up by one of the four local news stations who ran two great positive new stories.

We all know from firsthand experience that, if it were a negative cop/dog story, all the stations would have covered it, however this is a great example of how to create your own positive press relations in your community.   (After the dogs were turned over to the Humane Society, the owner signed papers to have the dogs adopted. Once that went public, he tried to get the dogs back. However he had an active warrant for cruelty to animals and the rest of the dogs were removed from the house.)

So who captures your positive moments on your department? Do your officers understand the value of positive press? Do your command officers understand the value of positive press? These are questions you should consider asking and consider when drafting social media policies. Find officers that are willing to capture and share those good moments. Share positive photos and videos on your department’s Facebook, Twitter and blogs. Utilize the free marketing campaign that is at your fingertips. It’s our favorite price… FREE!

Waiting in the wings is that next negative situation that will go public and make us all look bad. Why not get ahead of that and start promoting all the good things that your department does. Good stories happen every day. Make sure your department capitalizes on them. 30 seconds is a very short time to make an impact… good or bad!

 

Bridget is a 17 year veteran of the Omaha Police Department. Her work as a Crime Prevention Specialist has given her insight to many of the communities concerns. She has been one of the administrators of the OPD Facebook page for approximately 2 years. Her involvement as a Facebook administrator has been instrumental in increasing the fan base for the page and helping to control the fallout due to controversial issues.

Editor’s note: Fitzpatrick is the recipient of the first ConnectedCOPS “Civilian Award of Excellence” with social media.

Police countdown to Christmas with #Badvent calendars

Police Social Media ingenuity

English police forces have been at the forefront of using digital technology in general and social media in particular to develop innovative ways of engaging with their local communities. If you’re interested in police use of Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, Pinterest and the rest, you can check out a whole range of examples here.

Christmas 2013 has seen a new trend – digital Advent Calendars with a diversity of approach, to say the least. This post features a couple of examples.

Greater Manchester Police Child’s Play

Greater Manchester Police – @gmpolice on Twitter – are acknowledged as being one of the leading forces in using social media. They spent considerable time and energy working with local primary school children to produce a series of short videos. The theme is “Christmas Safety is Child’s Play” and the videos are uploaded daily and promoted via Twitter, Facebook etc.

GM Police seem to have a knack of doing this sort of thing well, high production values but with real people. Here’s the first video in the series:

The #Badvent Calendar

Nottinghamshire Police – @nottspolice – went in a different direction entirely. Their online advent calendar replaces the daily chocolate with the picture of a “most wanted” local criminal. Originally termed the #Badvent Calendar, it was renamed the “Festive Crime Calendar”. It’s still a strong contender for my hashtag of the year award.

badvent

Unfortunately, at the time of writing, none of the first nine miscreants has been apprehended.

You can get an update here

Please contribute any other seasonal comms ingenuity via the comment section below.

Augmented Reality, a Reality?

For several years there has been talk and speculation about what augmented reality (AR) would really become, what it could or for that matter couldn’t do and why would we care?

Well, here it is, but wait, it has already been in use for several years so why are we just now hearing more about it? That has much to do with the 800 pound Gorilla in the room. Yes that’s Google.

Google has created the first truly wearable augmented reality, Google Glass. First, I should explain what AR really is. It is “simply” adding layers of data on top of the reality you see. For instance, if I am looking at the outside of what might become my next favorite place to eat but I need to know more about it I can use AR to layer information over the reality I see such as, reviews, the menu etc. etc. right in front of my eyes.

Now, Google Glass takes that to the next level. Here you have a wearable device that takes commands in various ways such as head movement, sound etc. to tell me almost anything I want to know without having to whip out that annoying phone or stop what I am doing and do a search.

Well, that’s the fun part of this technology so what does or could it do for us in the emergency services field? First, from the public’s end, those using this technology will have access to information on the fly and be able to communicate information to others on the fly without so much as looking at a phone. It will give them access to information on where they are, what’s around them and even, possibly who they are looking at.

This poses some challenges and opportunities for us. First, the people using this technology will have an increased knowledge of the world around them and even us. As time and technology move forward, people will have access to more and more information, literally at the blink of an eye. Some challenges for let’s say, law enforcement is that this may give a person a law enforcement officer is dealing with, an edge that they never had before. For example, if at the same time a person is interacting with an officer the person can pull up data on the officers department and the training they are given, it may give them an opportunity to take advantage of that officer’s weaknesses in a fight.

But, just think of the knowledge it could provide first responders? Maybe not today, but in the future the possibilities exist with facial recognition to be able to wear a device like Google Glass and scan a crowd for a suspect where the glasses would alert you to when you find someone with an outstanding warrant or someone suspected in a crime. Also, think of the possibilities of having a technology like this so first responders could just look at a building and see its layout and schematics. What about being able to roll up on the scene of a major disaster and be able to see what the area looked like before. Not like looking at a map but real images layered over what you are seeing right in front of you. This may drastically increase responders’ ability to rescue people safely and in a faster manner.

With all “new” technology, there will be up and downsides to it. But, if we as the response community can allow our inner five year old imaginations run wild, I think we can turn this technology into something wonderful that protects us and saves lives.


Master Deputy Tom Erickson has been with the Johnson County Sheriff’s Office for the past 18 years. He has served in several capacities within the office to include as the Public Information Officer for the past 10 years. Tom is an early adopter of social media both personally and professionally and has successfully integrated multiple platforms in his agency and assisted with the Kansas Incident Management Teams implementation and use of social media before, during and after disasters.

PGPD Game Time

It had the ingredients for a traffic disaster: a Monday evening rush hour on the notoriously clogged Capital Beltway combined with a 7:05 pm kick-off for the Washington Redskins’ 2013 season home opener in Landover, Maryland.

But the Prince George’s County Police Department, whose headquarters borders FedEx Field, home of the Redskins’ stadium, decided to tackle the traffic challenge head-on. The department’s Media Relations Division developed a plan to inform the community about one of the most talked about topics in the Washington, DC area on any day of the year: traffic. The PGPD created “Game Time,” an information-sharing social media event. The department began tweeting on the Friday before the Monday Night Football game against the Redskins’ nearby NFC East rival the Philadelphia Eagles. Using the hashtag #GameTime, one member of the Media Relations Division coordinated with the police department’s Special Operations Division, which oversees all events at FedEx Field, to determine which information and images to tweet and when.

NFL games are major events for the PGPD with some 200 officers handling security and traffic. There is a large control room within FedEx Field where the Special Ops commanders keep a watchful eye on activities both in and around the stadium. Relying on a large bank of traffic cameras surveying the major arteries near the 90,000-person stadium, the Media Relations Division was able to see and then share traffic news in real time as the 7:05pm kickoff approached.

Various local media outlets gave advance coverage to “Game Time”, advising viewers, listeners and reader that the police department’s Twitter handle, @PGPDNews, would be tweeting traffic news during the potentially disastrous evening commute. This included the widely-followed The Washington Post’s traffic Twitter handle, @DrGridlock.

To maintain the momentum of the media coverage and to help game-goers plan, Media Relations began tweeting #GameTime news at about 3:30pm, 3 1/2 hours before the game began. In an attempt to crowd source traffic information, the PGPD solicited commuter input & specifically tried to discourage the notion of having drivers tweeting while behind the wheel:


At about 5 pm, this basic tweet prompted 12 retweets, or sharing of the police department’s message:

The Department’s message was spreading:

A parking logistics coordinator working for the Washington Redskins noted during the event it seemed to him the advance media coverage and the possibility of gridlock might be having an effect – not just on game attendees but on rush hour commuters as well. The parking lots, both he and police commanders noted, were filling up much earlier than expected.

The major roadways were far less congested than expected as kick-off neared. Drivers had planned ahead and arrived at the stadium well in advance.

A PGPD Special Operations Division helicopter flying above the stadium offered aerial images of traffic and the parking lots. Those tweets generated a lot of retweets, indicating the appetite for information included an appreciation for social media aesthetics.

In addition to the media coverage generated by the event, the PGPD advertised for “Game Time” in the days leading up to the game on Twitter, since that’s where the event would take place. However, to encourage crossover followers, the event was also advertised on the department’s Facebook page.

What ticket holders and commuters alike took away from the “Game Time” experience isn’t easily measured. Based on media coverage, the 38 new @PGPDNews followers gained that day and positive response from existing @PGPDNews followers, the department deemed the event a success.

The next similar event is planned for the week before Thanksgiving. Look for @PGPDNews to host #OperationOutlets on November 22, 2013. The grand opening for a new outlets mall in Prince George’s County is expected to draw more than 20,000 visitors and could lead to traffic tie-ups. To try and prevent that, the PGPD’s Special Operations Division’s Traffic Enforcement Unit and the Media Relations Division will again team up, returning to Twitter to once again keep citizens informed.

Julie Parker serves as the Director of the Media Relations Division for the Prince George’s County (MD) Police Department, the nation’s 28th largest law enforcement agency. The PGPD straddles Washington, D.C. and spans 500 square miles of urban, suburban, and rural populations. Prince George’s County is home to the University of Maryland at College Park, the Washington Redskins, and NASA headquarters with an approximate population of 900,000. Parker serves as principal communications advisor to the Chief of Police & other executive command staff and is responsible for key messages and media strategy, to include during crisis situations. She promotes and achieves positive news stories at an unprecedented level for this police department. Parker manages a 13-person division comprised of sworn and civilian public information officers, video production specialists, graphic designer, Crime Solvers coordinator and special projects professional. Parker is also a frequent guest lecturer at the FBI National Academy on law enforcement media relations and crisis communications. She’s a recognized leader in using social media for innovative community outreach, media relations, crisis communications, targeted branding and messaging. Parker spent 13 years reporting and anchoring in Washington, DC, most recently for ABC7 News where she won both an Emmy Award and an Edward R. Murrow Award.

Police pin down criminals

Pinteresting times

At the last count, there were 70 million registered Pinterest users with just over 2 million in the UK.

Most people use Pinterest to browse retail stores or indulge their interest in fashion, food and drink, or their own particular hobby or passion – be it tattoos or Moorish architecture.

I tend to use it as a way of storing and sharing infographics relating to my work interests – social media, drugs and crime.

But Pinterest has other uses too, it’s become sufficiently popular for police forces all over the world to adopt it, for a wide range of purposes.

Locating the owners of stolen property

A recent post by Inspector Roger Nield (@rogernield2703) on this site describes how Surrey police in the UK used Pinterest to return a large quantity of watches and jewellery recovered from a search at a burglar’s home.

Police officers realised that it could be very difficult to locate the owners of the stolen goods since property was often poorly described on crime reports and the burglaries had taken place in several counties.

So they decided to use social media to help.

While some officers searched for all recorded burglaries committed using their arrestee’s particular MO, others took photos of each piece of jewellery and uploaded them to the Surrey police Pinterest board.

Police then wrote to every known possible victim providing a link to the Pinterest board.

This enabled possible victims to peruse the board in their own time.

Victims who weren’t sure whether an item was actually theirs could liaise with police around serial numbers, receipts and other evidence of ownership.

Interestingly, some victims who found one stolen item subsequently returned to the Pinterest board and found others.

Surrey police are confident that they have not been deceived and that only actual victims have had their, often much treasured, jewellery returned.

The Victoria Police Department in British Columbia, Canada have a whole Pinterest board dedicated to stolen goods whose owners they are trying to find.

 

Pinterest stolen property

 

Finding wanted criminals

The local paper in Pottstown Pennsylvania – The Pottstown Mercury – posts photos of  suspects wanted by the police in a number of local areas. Local police supply mugshots which are then uploaded onto the Mercury’s Pinterest Board.

 

Pinterest wanted people

 

Locating missing people

In the same way, the Kansas City Police Department maintains a Pinterest Board of local missing persons.

Sharing information about street drugs 

Kansas City Police Department also maintains a whole host of Pinterest boards.

One provides details about unsolved homicides.

Another shares images of street drugs and paraphernalia with the purpose of helping local people, particularly parents, identify substances and put them in a position to have a conversation with children/other loved ones about any drugs they might be using. The board also provides links to effective ways of talking to children about drugs.

 

Pinterest drugs

 

 

For police services all over the world, Pinterest is beginning to provide the same sort of opportunities as Twitter and Facebook (for latest police social media practice in Europe, see this series of posts).

It enables police to have a much greater reach into local communities and share information at minimal cost.

Police can use social media to broadcast information, request intelligence and, now with Pinterest, provide a better service for victims of crime.

 

If you know of other police uses of Pinterest, please let me know in the comments section below.

Nextdoor: Social Media For The Neighborhood

The private social network for your neighborhood. That’s how Nextdoor, a two year old startup company based in San Francisco, describes their product. What is it? What does it do? Who is it for? How much is it? Let’s back up a moment and I will answer all of those questions.

My Department’s community has really embraced our efforts with social media (Twitter and Facebook). We have a strong following on both platforms and the overall feedback from residents has been overwhelmingly positive. Any Law Enforcement agency that makes a strong effort with social media won’t have to wait long before discovering its benefits. You’ll also wonder why you waited so long to embrace it. And, yes, you will quickly learn its pitfalls and limitations as well. It can often be a trial and error process which can sometimes raise the blood pressure of management and line Officers. If you’ve been a ConnectedCOP you already know this and you also realize the benefits outweigh the risks. A lot of these topics have been covered quite extensively and I’m not going to rehash most of it in this post. I am going to speak of limitations with traditional social media and how it brings me to Nextdoor.

What are the limitations I am talking about? First, it’s audience. Who is your social media audience? Is it local? Is it national? Is it international? Probably all of the above. Our experience has been that our Facebook audience has a higher number of residents than does Twitter. But, both platforms bring in people from all over the world. That’s a great thing in many respects but it also presents challenges because it’s not just your residents you are reaching. And sometimes, you just want to speak to your residents, not the media, not the perps, not the 752 agencies that follow you, etc.

The second limitation is accommodating employee involvement.  How do you facilitate employee engagement through social media without having to wade through pages of privacy settings or dealing with numerous accounts that the agency has no control over?  Then there’s the challenge of directing all of this employee involvement through a common outlet (your agency).  Getting employees on social media is not hard. Moving them all in the right direction, under one umbrella, can be a major challenge. The term “Herding Cats” comes to mind.

Third, do these social media platforms give residents a common outlet to reach your agency and each other?  This is where our conversation started and it was related to neighborhood watch. Yes, “Neighborhood Watch”, does it sound weird? Seems like it’s old school. But, everything old school eventually becomes new school again. In my town we had a neighborhood that was very tight and really wanted to address some of the nuisance crime that can degrade the quality of life.  These folks had a system going with a Yahoo Group that was working very well and many of the members were using the group primarily through email, a great tool. However, in my own mind, I could see a problem for us moving forward.

The problem is that crime watch traditionally needs a relationship with the police. Do we get on their Yahoo Group to stay current and communicate? What if the neighborhood nearby uses Google Groups for their watch, a Facebook group or a listserv? We want to be part of the conversation, part of the solution. How can we be effective with all of the fragmentation? I started looking for solutions. I jumped online and began looking for crime watch software. Go ahead and try searching for yourself, I won’t bore you further.

It wasn’t until my friend and coworker Troy noticed the Nextdoor logo on the National Night Out webpage that I thought I had something with potential. Troy knew we were looking for something and passed it along as a possible solution.

So, what is Nextdoor? As I said in the first paragraph, it is described as a private social network for your neighborhood. But, what does that mean? The social part is just like any other form of social media. Its all about social networking with other people, specifically, your neighbors. That is where the “privacy” comes in. In order to register to your neighborhood you have to verify your address. There’s a few ways Nextdoor does this.

• With your mobile phone
• With a phone call to your landline
• With your credit or debit
• With a postcard sent to the address you registered with

Obviously, nothing is foolproof but the effort put forth on the verification process sets this platform apart from other software, among other things. But, one thing we can’t avoid is the requirement that we register for, yet another, social media site. I’ve always been a believer in going where the audience already exists, not bringing the audience to us. Requiring folks to register for something else in order to listen to us always seems to end up with a limited audience and the need to connect mainstream social media platforms to expand that audience. Ultimately, that scenario is often a fail. Will Nextdoor persevere? I’m not sure. Whether Nextdoor can overcome the challenges that has left others in the dust remains to be seen (for us) but I’ll be following up at a later date with actual results. For now, let’s look at the product and how to get started.

Like a typical startup company don’t expect to see many phone numbers listed on the Nextdoor website. Most of your contact with Nextdoor will be via email and their contact forms on their website. It took me a week or two to get a demo of the product but once that was out of the way things went quickly and I was put into contact with two employees that have been excellent in their support.

At this point I should mention that Nextdoor can be used by residents without the involvement of the municipality. But, our interest from the start was to launch it as a police initiative. Nextdoor for cities is what it is called. Just be aware that residents may already be using Nextdoor. Not a big deal but it may affect your neighborhood boundaries.

If you’re going to get this project off to a strong start you really want to pull out a map and work with Nextdoor to get the neighborhoods divided up. There’s no GIS wizardry required here and we were able to send them a map that we marked up with a Sharpie. You may find that there are some existing neighborhoods defined by residents and Nextdoor will be hesitant to change them without the consent of the person that created it, so be prepared. Dividing up neighborhoods isn’t as easy as it seems. Some neighborhoods are painless to identify because the streets and geography already provide good boundaries. Other areas on your map may not be so clear cut. The end goal should be neighborhoods with 100-1000 households.

Once the map is completed, it’s time to recruit members to act as founders. Founders are the folks that will get their neighborhood off the ground by inviting people to join the neighborhood on Nextdoor. How you find your founders depends on the agency. In our case we used our strong following on traditional social media to recruit founders successfully. Founding members register and start inviting their neighbors, who in turn, can invite as well once their address is verified. Once a neighborhood is started, it remains in “pilot” mode until a certain amount of verified membership is reached, usually around 10. There is usually a time limit on the pilot stage and if a neighborhood is not launched in a certain amount of time it will revert to being an “unused” neighborhood.

During this process Nextdoor will setup your agency’s “City Page” so you can invite agency members to join and track the progress of your neighborhoods. However, your agency presence on Nextdoor will not be available to you or residents until an official launch. More on that in a moment. While you’re preparing for official launch you will need to spend some time getting residents interested and recruiting founding members. At the same time you can track the progress of the neighborhoods at the Nextdoor site by logging in and viewing the Google map that they embed for you. The map will show you all of your neighborhoods. Neighborhoods in green have launched, brown are pilot and red are unused. Metrics are also available and are updated every night. Data available includes how many members exist in each neighborhood, the number of invites sent out, how much content has been generated by each neighborhood and other helpful statistics. The agency can even export the data to a CSV file. This is what our map looks like, five days prior to the official launch of our city page.

Nextdoor Neighborhoods

Nextdoor Neighborhoods

The last step on the list is official launch. This is where you officially announce to your residents that Nextdoor is available to them. Official launch will usually happen once 30-50% neighborhoods are started. This can be done through traditional press releases, social media and flyers. As I write this we are a few days away from this step.

So far, I’ve described the process but what about the product? Assuming you’ve already grasped the “privacy” aspect of Nextdoor the rest of the product should be familiar as a well designed social media site. What I mean by “well designed” is the layout of the neighborhood websites and the look and feel of the software itself. The user interface is feature rich, attractive, responsive and lightweight. The iOS and Android apps are no different. The overall user experience is very positive without the bloated feel of sites like Facebook.

Each neighborhood website on Nextdoor is where residents can post announcements in different categories, add events, classifieds and even create their own public or private groups. Neighborhoods can post to their neighborhood as well as adjoining neighborhoods. The website also facilitates the upload of pictures and documents. To see how a neighborhood works Nextdoor provides a demo website you can try out. I should also add that email integration is also available. If a resident has email notifications setup they can reply to a post simply by replying to the notification email. City officials can also respond this way.

How does the City Page work? One of the most important points about the City Page I’d like to share is that City Officials can’t see the neighborhood websites. With all the privacy concerns lately we think this is a good thing. That being said, Officials can post messages to one or all neighborhoods and residents are free to engage those posts through comments which the agency can see and respond to.

Agencies are able to add employees as officials on the city page. Each “Official” has a profile that they can make public or private. Once an Official posts from the City Page they are now visible to residents on the City Page “Officials” tab. Officials are also available to receive private messages from both residents and other officials. These messages can be responded to via the website or the users email account used when they registered.

From a police perspective the Nextdoor platform opens up some interesting possibilities in the area of Community Policing with individual neighborhoods. The ability for one or more Officers to focus on individual neighborhoods should be an obvious plus for most agencies.

The City Page isn’t limited to just Law Enforcement agencies and our Town management is very interested in Nextdoor for the same reasons we are.

What about costs? How does Nextdoor make money? Nextdoor is a free service to both residents and your city/town. They have no plans in the future to charge for their service. Their revenue model at this point has not been determined but I think it’s safe to assume that local advertising is a logical long term plan for Nextdoor. For now, Nextdoor has enjoyed plenty of interest and funding from numerous investors and capital venture firms as well as partnerships with some of the largest cities in the United States.

The big question of the day here is, will residents see the value in private social media for their neighborhood? Again, expecting people to add another social media site to their life is a challenge. The only way this will happen effectively is if the product sets itself apart from the competition. We don’t have the answer yet but we are waiting to find out. Early indicators are good though as we are approaching 600 members prior to official launch.

That’s the Nextdoor product overview. I’m sure there will be a lot more interest from Law Enforcement as the product sees expanded adoption nationwide. I’ll be sure to follow up our experiences with Nextdoor in a future post.

Greg is a Police Lieutenant with the Billerica MA Police Department. An 18 year veteran, Greg manages Communications and Technology which includes social media initiatives.

Surrey police use Pinterest to return stolen property to victims of crime

In June 2013 Victoria Hunter, a Detective with Surrey Police executed a search warrant at the home of a burglar and recovered a large quantity of watches and jewellery. Having checked the stolen property records she realised that it would be very difficult to re-connect what might have been stolen with the owners. Some property was poorly described on the crime reports. It was made more difficult because the area where the offences had taken place crossed police force boundaries. So there were some items that apparently were not recorded as stolen goods.

This scenario will be recognised by every operational police officer wherever they work.

In discussing the situation back in the office a (Civilian) Team Co-ordinator Dawn Lewis mentioned Pinterest the ‘pinboard-style’ photograph sharing social media website and the hypothesis was posed, “Why don’t we post images of the recovered items on a specific Pinterest page and invite victims of crimes to identify what, if anything is theirs?”

As we know “a picture says a thousand words”.

So whilst Vic liaised with the intelligence unit and searched for all the offences that were committed with the subject’s particular style (MO) other colleagues from the team rallied around and supported her by separating all of the pieces of jewellery. DC Phil Leaver had the weary task of capturing images of every piece of jewellery and Investigating Officer Jane Richards went on to upload them all to the Surrey Police Pinterest page. Jane completed this with the support of Matt Heeley from the force’s Online and Production team who arranged access to Pinterest via the force’s IT system.

Meanwhile the Detective had written to every known possible victim and introduced them to the plan for the victims to view the goods and introduced some to Pinterest itself. These letters were hand delivered by neighbourhood officers whilst patrolling their beats. Over 100 letters were delivered.

So there was a suspect, a haul of possibly stolen goods all uploaded to Pinterest and we had over a hundred people who were potentially the true owners of this ‘swag’ with access to the URL – http://pinterest.com/surreypolice/recovered-jewellery/ .

What happened next?

The victims could in their own time and at their own pace review the property photographs. This meant Surrey Police did not need to mount an expensive display of property that might not be visited or where victims could feel under pressure to choose or reject property.

The viewing could be done on the train en route to the office or at home in the eventing calm.

Victims who were uncertain whether an item was actually theirs could seek evidence in the form of receipts or photographs with the picture on-line and with them to compare.

The investigative team would support people who were uncertain about any item. They would check for serial numbers, known damage or marks known only to the owner to confirm or deny ownership.

Due to the novel way the victims had of interacting with the property on Pinterest some people discovered more items in subsequent viewings once they had found one item.

To date no criminal has tried to fraudulently claim goods that are shown on Pinterest.

Furthermore knowing that the suspect committed offences in areas policed by other forces by sharing the Pinterest page officers across the country could have their victims to check to see if their stolen property had been recovered by Surrey Police.

What does all this mean?

The Surrey Police Pinterest experiment is still on-going and there is more work to do. It is a local solution to a specific set of circumstances and of course like the best ideas it has been suggested and actioned by the local team members with appropriate headquarters support. However there is a lot of potential for using Pinterest not just across local police boundaries but internationally. For example it would be entirely possible to share images between detectives from around the world. Also public appeals for missing people could be supported by photos on Pinterest and the “pin-board” updated by people globally potentially helping to protect the vulnerable.

I am sure there will be many Law Enforcement professionals out there who have similar experiences to Vic, Phil, Jane and Dawn and would encourage them to reply to this post suggesting ways in which the rest of us can work smarter, not harder.

Roger Nield is the Runnymede Neighbourhood Inspector for Surrey Police in England. He joined Greater Manchester Police in 1985 and served in Salford and Wigan divisions and on the Tactical Aid Unit before transferring to Surrey in 2000.
Here he has worked on Operational Support and response teams before retuning to Neighbourhood Policing in 2005.

Roger has a master’s degree in Police Science and Management and a Batchelor of Science degree with honours in Policing and Police Studies both from Portsmouth University. He became a Bramshill Fellow in 2008. He and other authors published a paper* of research into the interviewing of vulnerable people in 2002.

Roger’s areas of expertise include Safer Neighbourhood Policing, Co-Location of policing and local authority staff, CCTV, project planning, Operational and Emergency planning, Public Order and CBRN policing and he is learning about the police use of social media. He has recently begun blogging.

* Nield, R., Milne, R., Bull. R. and Marlow, K. (2003) The Youth Justice and Criminal Evidence Act 1999 and the interviewing of vulnerable groups: A practitioner’s perspective. Legal and Criminological Psychology, 8 (2), September 2003,223-228

ConncectedCOPS Awards 2013: Finalists for Social Media Campaign

ConnectedCOPS Social Media Campaign

This award will go to the law enforcement agency which has met its stated goals with a documented social media campaign. The campaign is designed to address a significant problem or educational issue within the agency’s jurisdiction. Nominations should include a description of how success was measured.

The finalists in the Social Media in Campaign Management category have proactively and strategically designed a campaign with social media having a significant part. They have carried out the plan and achieved the goals set forth.

There are three finalists in this category:

North Yorkshire Police, United Kingdom
The North Yorkshire Police (NYP) were nominated for their success with two separate social media campaigns. With its #TeamNYP campaign, the NYP grew its engagement with citizens significantly. The plan was strategically combined with traditional communication methods to draw more views to the force’s website and other content. A key piece of the project was the redesign of the home page of the force website featuring live social media content. With a separate campaign focused on mobile technology and a goal of reducing burglaries, the NYP created an iBook campaign for iPad users. The iBook is called “Securing your home” and features chapters on bogus callers, burglary prevention, property marking, vehicle security and rural crime. The project was such a success that more iBooks are forthcoming and several other UK forces are looking to the NYP for their leadership.

Waterloo Regional Police, Ontario, Canada
With a goal of engaging youth, building awareness and stimulating dialogue surrounding gang prevention, the Waterloo Regional Police (WRPS) created the “8 Days of SWAG” social media campaign. The campaign and its social media profiles were deliberately branded separate from the Waterloo Regional Police Service based on a perceived notion that if youth knew who would be hosting the campaign, they would be less likely to participate. Each day was assigned a theme, as a way to organize the broad topic of “gangs” and prizes were awarded every day. By the end of the 8 Days of SWAG campaign, the WRPS had engaged over 650 participants which in turn reached more than 83 thousand Twitter accounts. On Facebook, they reached over 5,400 people, of which 68% were between ages of 13 and 24. WRPS received numerous requests from students, asking them to visit their school, as well as requests to continue the campaign next year.

Collier County Sheriff, Florida, United States
In November 2012, the Collier County Sheriff’s Office (CCSO) launched an ambitious multi-faceted public safety campaign aimed at bringing about a law that would make it illegal to text-message while driving in Florida. “Stop Texting & Driving” was a community-based, grass roots movement to address the growing demand for Florida to join the 39 states that have declared it illegal for drivers to text behind the wheel. Through their website, PSA’s and social media, citizens were asked to sign a call to action in support of anti-texting legislation. The Sheriff also invited community members to share their texting and driving experiences on the CSCO social media platforms. More than 150 people posted messages, many of which were heartbreaking, about how their lives had been affected by someone who was text-messaging while driving. Most significantly, Gov Rick Scott signed legislations on May 28th that makes it illegal to text-message while driving in Florida.

Finalists in the other awards categories will be announced throughout this week on this blog. Check back to see the finalists for Top Cop tomorrow. Winners will be announced September 25th at The SMILE Conference™ in Omaha, Nebraska.

Finalists previously announced:

The ConnectedCOPS Awards were created by LAwS Communications with the intent of recognizing the good work being done by individual officers and law enforcement agencies with social media. The international law enforcement community will be considered for these awards. Any officer or agency anywhere in the world is eligible.

How do we overcome Twitter abuse?

These sorts of vile attacks are horribly commonplace

The story of how hundreds of men mounted a sustained online attack on Caroline Criado-Perez, threatening her with rape and violent assault in reaction to her successful campaign to get the face of Jane Austen on British £10 bank notes has caused public outrage.

Perhaps the most shocking aspect of the story is how commonplace this sort of vile attack is. Most women Tweeters with any sort of public profile have experienced unprovoked online assaults.

The vast majority of us want to see a fast, reliable way of the perpetrators of this sort of abuse facing the consequences of their actions.

But none of us has yet come up with an effective response.

There are too many of these cases to expect the police to prioritise online investigations.
In the same way, Twitter would have to change fundamentally (not allow anonymity or charge hefty membership rates) if it took over the role of policing itself.
Similarly, although Tweeters will usually support others under-fire, the fact that this sort of perpetrator can swiftly set up numerous anonymous accounts makes that form of action ineffective.
Tweeters who are targeted can of course block offenders, but that’s almost impossible to do when you’re under sustained attack – and why should the victims of any crime be responsible for taking action?
I don’t have a great idea for a magic bullet myself.

However, there are some good articles and blog posts out there suggesting different ways forward.

I’ve assembled these into the Storify below to help readers formulate their own ideas.

Please suggest any new ideas that I can add to the collection.

 

Social Media Quick Tip: Facebook’s ‘Graph Search’ Raises Privacy Concerns

Facebook rolled out what it calls “graph search” last week, effectively turning user profiles inside out. Graph search was announced earlier this year but rolled out to the masses a few days ago. Facebook has a page on how graph search affects privacy, but surprise, surprise, they leave a lot out.

The best way to understand it is to try a few searches. As examples, put in “police officers who live in ” or “photos of ” and see the wealth of information you get. The important thing to understand is that each search is tailored to each user. So two people making the same searches will get different results. It all depends on how the searcher is personally linked to the subjects being searched.

Graph search doesn’t allow people to see any more than they would be able to otherwise, but it certainly makes it easier to find it and serves it all up at once. This is all the more reason to make sure your Facebook settings are locked down on your personal profiles.

Have you hidden your friends lists and your “likes” to prying eyes? Have you set your tagging so you can review tags of yourself and turned off facial recognition? Have you managed the settings of what others share about you? Have you prevented search engines from linking to your timeline? Have you gone through your entire timeline and limited the audience, deleted them or untagged yourself in photos? Have you limited who sees your future posts? If this sounds foreign to you, you’re likely open to the world.

And make no mistake, Facebook is sure to be adding to what information it can pull about its members into the graph search. Imagine if facial recognition is added, then all those photos your friends and family have posted of you that you think no one will ever see are suddenly fair game. Furthermore, there is no setting to opt out of graph search.

Graph search also has huge implications on child crimes. Facebook prevents profiles with ages set under 18 from being searchable by adults. But, as you know, stalkers and sexual predators create fake profiles anyway. If they set their age setting to between 13 and 17, graph search will present them a far greater access to potential victims.

Of course, the flip side is, this works in an investigator’s favor as well.

This Social Media Quick Tip was previously published on LawOfficer.com