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ConnectedCOPS Awards 2013: Finalists for Excellence at a Small Agency

This is the first announcement of eight categories of finalists for the 2013 ConnectedCOPS Awards.

Stay tuned for the announcement of finalists in seven other categories over the next several days.


LAwS Communications announces the finalists for the
ConnectedCOPS Excellence at a Small Agency Award.

The finalists in this category have demonstrated innovation and variety of approaches to integrating social media. We congratulate all our finalists for their incredible contribution to the global effort to achieve excellence in social media use by law enforcement.

ConnectedCOPS Excellence at a Small Agency

This award is given to a law enforcement agency of 150 sworn officers or fewer that has demonstrated overall excellence in the use of social media to enhance its services to the public. The agency exhibits leadership, creativity and innovation in its use of social media to engage, educate, recruit, and etc. The agency has a broad and deep understanding of social media use and applies sound governance and strategy in its social media operations. The agency also promotes the use of social networking in law enforcement through its outreach to colleagues and by mentoring others.

The three finalists are:

Chelsea Police, Massachusetts, USA
In a very short time, with superior leadership, the CPD has exemplified a keen understanding of the need for strategic application of social media in policing. The Department strategy began early in 2012. The Chelsea Police Department launched a brand new multi-lingual ChelseaPolice.com web site. The site brought a lot of information for the public to access with social media features such as a blog, Youtube, Facebook, Twitter, and the Chief’s Weekly. Much of this was meant with the idea in mind that the public, and its diversity could follow our activities and become more engaged with public safety and related events. Through Twitter, the Department launched the Tweet-A-Tip Program meant to give crime prevention information to the public to help better police themselves.

Billerica Police, Massachusetts, USA
The Billerica Police Department was a 2012 finalist for a ConnectedCOPS Award in this category. The BPD has focused on increased community engagement with social media. The department has a keen awareness of the true sense of social media by its demonstrated relationship building with the community it serves. It has become a useful tool for many of its residents, young and old. The BPD emphasizes keeping the information current for the residents and the questions asked are answered as quickly as allowed.

North West Motorway Police Group, United Kingdom
The NWMPG is a new collaboration of motorway policing across the 4 police force areas of the North West of England. These forces are Cheshire, Greater Manchester, Lancashire and Merseyside. Only just a year since setting up its Twitter and Facebook accounts, the Group has 20,000 followers/friends. The accounts are known for disseminating news delays due to road traffic conditions, police incidents and rush hour activity. As information comes into the NWMPG control centre from a range of sources, including all the involved police forces via 999 calls and from the Highways Agency, it is related to the public. Social Media is also used to let the public know what success the Group has in policing the Region’s motorways and denying criminals the use of the motorway network. The NWMPG regularly makes arrests primarily for drink/drug driving, disqualified drivers, transport of drugs (recently £500,000 street value seized) and illegal immigrants.

Finalists in the other awards categories will be announced throughout the next several days on this blog. Check back to see the finalists for Social Media Investigator Award tomorrow. Winners will be announced September 25th at The SMILE Conference® in Omaha, Nebraska.

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.

Help me, I.T. Guy

Open Letter to “The I.T. Guy” –

Why must I change my password so often? Just when I start to automatically type it in from memory, you require me to change it.

Why I.T. Guy? And why must it be in the form of an algorithm or a DNA strand?

I know you’re smart…probably smarter than any two people I know. But why must it be “ten characters, a minimum of two numbers (not sequential) with at least one capital and two symbols (not #) and cannot be something you have used in the last 6 months.”

Why can’t it be “leghound” or “superfreak” I.T. Guy? Why?

What about just a single number? I would use “7” I.T. Guy…nobody would ever guess that.

I’m a simple guy. Yes I’m 41 but still think “Porky’s” is a funny movie and “Hot Tub Time Machine” is the cinematic treasure of the 21st Century. I get my passwords from simple things I can remember I.T. Guy.

I have three computers, at least a dozen databases, two desk phones, two mobile phones, and an iPad. I have a pager I.T. Guy.

A pager.

When you and the other I.T. Guys get together, I’m the guy you make fun of…and I’m ok with that. Just make it easier to come up with a password for guys like me.

I’m the guy who writes down his passwords on a piece of paper on his desk.

Under the mouse pad.

Help me I.T. Guy…help me, help you with network security. If my passwords were easy to remember, I wouldn’t have to write them down on a piece of paper and become THE security risk you worry about.

I think I speak for a lot of people with this message. Please, help us lower humans and quit mocking us with your password games.

Thanks I.T. Guy, I appreciate it.

Social Media Quick Tip: How to Get Arrested Using Social Media

The relatively short history of social media is rife with tales of criminal misadventure

Did you hear the one about the burglar who was identified (and arrested) because he checked his Facebook page at the house he robbed and forgot to log out before he left with the loot? That one dates back to 2009.

More recent is the story of Matthew Oliver. This guy is no rocket scientist either. Earlier this month, when the Pasco Sheriff’s Office posted his wanted photo on Facebook, he responded to his own wanted post:

“You guys are going to pay for… believing a crackhead and… slandering my name,” Oliver wrote on the sheriff’s office Facebook page. “Pasco County has nothing but fools investigating crimes for them that’s why these mix up[s] happen.” ~Matthew Oliver

After spending a weekend in jail, Matthew Oliver reminds all his friends that he remains No. 1.

There are literally dozens of stories of people making it way to easy for police to file charges while providing immense entertainment for the rest of us.

Here are a few notables:

In Chicago, a 15 year-old kid was arrested recently after he threatened a “mass homicide” if George Zimmerman were to be found not guilty of killing Trayvon Martin. He was charged with a class 4 felony.

Another teen in Astoria, Oregon went to jail after he posted on Facebook: “drivin drunk… classic; but to whoever’s vehicle I hit I am sorry. :P” after a night of drinking.

Two tourists from the UK had their vacation cut short after one of them tweeted, “I’m going to destroy America and dig up Marilyn Monroe”. When they landed in Los Angeles, they were greeted, detained and then sent home in spite of having explained that “destroy” is British slang for party.

My favorite is the story of Angela Voelkert. She created a fake Facebook profile, “Jessica,” and friended her ex-husband with it in order to get some dirt on him in their child custody battle. Her ex, David, posted a chat message to “Jessica” that he was going to track his ex-wife with a GPS device and kill her. Angela Voelkert took that post to the FBI who arrested him. However, after four days in jail, he was released when he showed the feds a sworn affidavit explaining he knew it was a ruse all along and lied to trap her:

“the lies that I am placing in this chat [are]… proof what my ex-wife has been doing, so this will be part of such. In no way do I have plans to leave with my children or do any harm to Angela Dawn Voelkert or anyone else.” ~David E. Voelkert

Not so funny is the real murder-for-hire that transpired on Facebook when Christine Metter and her father tried to hire her former high school friend to kill her husband. She is currently serving 10 years and her father nine.

Meanwhile, after spending the weekend in a Pasco County jail, Matt Oliver changed his profile photo to one of himself flipping the bird at the photographer.

Whom could that be for? I wonder.

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

How cops used Twitter to catch a fish called Wanda

Catch me if you can

I’ve posted before about criminals at large taunting police on social media, with varying degrees of success.

The case of Wanda Lee Ann Podgurski is a worthy addition to the catologue.

Ms Podgurski is a serial fraudster who was convicted in January 2013 of dishonestly acquiring $650,000 from fake insurance and disability claims.

She promptly went on the run.




This time it’s personal

Wanda set up a Twitter account and followed just one other tweeter – San Diego District Attorney Bonnie Dumanis.

Like any good new Tweeter, she carefully crafted her profile description:

“On the run, possibly in Iran.”

before tweeting

The US Marshals Fugitive Task Force was able to trace her tweet to Mexico and promptly arrested her, leaving the DA the last word on Twitter:

Read a full version of this story here.

Social Media is The New Face of Disaster Response [Infographic]

Did you know that 76% of survivors of natural disasters use social media to let their friends know they’re safe? You can find more interesting facts about social media’s role in the wake of a natural disaster, including Sandy, in the following infographic developed by University of San Francisco’s Masters of Public Administration department. The infographic was most recently used in a congressional hearing shown on C-SPAN, demonstrating the importance of social media in a natural disaster.

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