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Social Media and Criminal Justice Policy Exchange

This blog post is a straight plug to encourage readers to engage in a new initiative launched jointly by:

Professor Paul Senior of Sheffield Hallam University who tweets as @yorkhull and

Associate Professor Julian Buchanan of the Institute of Criminology at Victoria University of Wellington, New Zealand – @julianbuchanan

They have set up a series of interlinked initiatives to explore the growing use of social media for debating criminal justice policy and are seeking to test the following proposition:

Social media offers criminal justice stakeholders an open, equitable and transparent way to extend avenues of communication globally potentially increasing accessibility and impact. It has enabled novel and distinctive pathways for criminal justice policy exchange, evolution and implementation through the construction of an extensive e-architecture enabling new forms of dissemination, communication, policy networks, policy developments and debate which has the potential to democratise and widen access to influence crime policy.

I have taken the liberty of translating the proposition into two questions in non-academic English:

Can social media spread best practice quicker, all around the world?
Does it make it easier to broaden the debate to include service users, practitioners, managers, researchers, policy makers and politicians?
Paul & Julian have launched the initiative on a wide range of social media and are keen to engage with anyone and everyone who is interested in criminal justice policy.

The list of links is shown below.

A great first step would be for you to take the short survey about whether and how you use social media to discuss criminal justice issues.

If you want to find out more about the project or start engaging in discussion, you can:

Read the blog

Watch the YouTube video:

Comment on the Facebook Group

Browse the Scoopit online magazine

Or join the LinkedIn Group

The survey has already been completed by a wide range of participants in a dozen different countries.

It would be great to start a truly international criminal justice policy exchange.

So, I hope you will give it a try.

I’ve done the survey and joined the LinkedIn group and am already looking forwards to asking participants in Australia, the USA and the Netherlands their experience of payment by results…

Philly Police on Pinterest

The Philadelphia Police Department is always looking for ways to connect with members of our community. Our District Captains hold monthly meetings to ensure that we are addressing the issues that are affecting our citizens. We have foot-beat officers walking through neighborhoods throughout the city so that people can get to know the officers that are serving them. And, we have one of the most prolific social media campaigns of any police department in the country because we recognize the importance of interacting with the citizens that we serve through every available avenue.

To that end, the Philadelphia Police Department is pleased to announce our latest foray in to the social space, Pinterest. The PPD Pinterest account currently has nine boards. The first six are for wanted and recently arrested persons in each of the six police divisions across the city. The three remaining boards are Inside the PPD, Safety and Prevention and Cops in the Community. We expect there will be more boards as time goes on. If you have an idea for a board you would like to see from us, please let us know.

Along with our brand new Pinterest, we are also on Facebook, Twitter and YouTube. Take an active role in reducing crime in Philadelphia by liking, following and subscribing to our social platforms. You can submit a tip via email at tips@PhillyPolice.com, phone at 215-686-tips (8477), text message to PPDTip, and on our website at PhillyPolice.com/tips.

Thank you for joining us in the effort to fight crime in the City of Philadelphia.

Leveling the Playing Field

How Public Safety Demands Are Changing Buyer/Supplier Dynamics

For decades, buyer and supplier dynamics in police and fire departments have been based on an uncompromising, static relationship – if you wanted to buy hardware, you chose a vendor and you were pretty much tied to that company for upgrades and replacements. That’s because vendors sought to monopolize their market and secure future earnings through repeat sales. While this made smart business sense on the part of suppliers, it often meant first responders were left with products that cost substantially more than their consumer counterparts and trailed in technological advances.

The whole situation reminds me of Wile E. Coyote holding an Acme explosive while the Road Runner zips away.

Fortunately this lopsided business arrangement is correcting itself, largely because of two factors. First, we’ve got the pure speed of technological change in our Internet-driven world. Chiefs can no longer realistically expect a product to remain top of the line for a significant number of years, even with updates. Additionally, there’s the pressing need to establish interoperable communications networks between agencies to enhance public safety response during a crisis, an agenda item that gained momentum after the tragic events of 9/11.

As public safety agencies grapple with these challenges, they’re starting to understand that they’ve been doing business backwards. They’re realizing that a vendor’s product list isn’t the only available option. Instead, chiefs recognize there are many technology companies out there and if a vendor can’t supply specific departmental needs, they can go elsewhere.

At the same time, technology companies are realizing that they have a larger responsibility than simply selling out of the box. They actually have to do what’s in the best service of their customer – public safety in this case. That’s why we’re seeing specific technologies being developed to address public safety-related issues, not just adaptations of pre-existing hardware.

But doing what’s best for public safety has a broader implication. It also means companies working together for the greater good. We saw this recently on a commercial level when Superstorm Sandy battered the East Coast. At its peak, power outages shut down 25 percent of cell phone towers across 10 states, overburdening the remaining infrastructure and resulting in millions of dropped calls. To bolster service, AT&T and T-Mobile announced they would switch calls seamlessly between their networks in storm-damaged areas of New York and New Jersey, depending on which network had better reception in a particular area.

Another great example occurred in August at the Republican National Convention in Tampa, Fla., where an interoperable communications network assisted law enforcement. Leading technology companies, including Raytheon, Cisco, Nokia Siemens Networks, Reality Mobile and Amdocs, joined forces to integrate fixed camera feeds, live video transmitted from smartphones, GPS-enabled blue force tracking and Land Mobile Radio P25 push-to-talk voice resources.

The combined efforts of these companies created a system that marked the first time federal, state and local first responders simultaneously used a private broadband network for a national special security event (NSSE). This initiative proved that an interoperable system can function on a large scale and its success could serve as a blueprint for the larger FirstNet National Public Safety Broadband Network architecture.

It’s encouraging to see this type of collaboration take place both on the commercial and public safety levels. Technology companies can no longer take a proprietary view that shies away from open architecture and cross-platform partnerships. In our multidimensional and complex world, partnerships offer cost-efficient, workable solutions for public safety.

What to Tweet?

what to tweet… think, think think

Tweeting as an organization can be an interesting exercise, but it doesn’t have to be like cuffing a naked and bloody mental patient (if you’ve ever had the opportunity, you know what I mean). As a Law Enforcement organization, we are not tweeting about the great cheesesteak we had last night, the shellacking the Sixers just put on the Knicks (sorry NYPD), or the smelly person that just sat next to us on the subway.

Content, especially for tweets, is all around us. Tweeting is a great way to let people know what you are doing on other digital media. “VIDEO: Suspect wanted for Robbery in the 3rd District” and a link to the video is all it takes. Traffic updates are another easy thing that people love to see. We are often the ones closing the streets for auto accident, fire scenes, parades, etc. A quick tweet, “TRAFFIC ADVISORY: Today until 9pm, 18th to 20th St from Race to Callowhill including Logan Cir closed for Franklin Science Fair” lets people know they need to plan a different route and that we are looking out for them.

Tweets can also give your citizens a peek “behind the badge.” Is one of your coworkers retiring? Getting an award? Snap a picture with your phone and tweet it. Are your officers doing some high-speed training? While we do not have provocatively dressed crime scene investigators using green lasers to find a single hair in a warehouse to blow the case wide open (if you do, call me when you are hiring!), one of the most popular things we have ever tweeted, was an impromptu picture of officers doing Patrol Bicycle training. Sweaty cops after a bike ride, who knew?

Another important aspect of Twitter is showing off. That’s right, puff out your chest a little, you’re doing a good job! Citizens tweet some nice things at us and we love to retweet them. People enjoy seeing that their police department is paying attention and it lets our citizens know about some of the good things our officers are doing. In that vein, we also try to respond to every question. It is usually just a phone number or a link but people really do appreciate it.

We all have many other duties to perform and tweeting could be a full-time job, but making an effort to reach out to the people that we are paid to serve, even if it is digitally, is a cornerstone of good policing. So get over the fact that is has a silly name, get your department a Twitter handle, and tweet away!

Corporal Frank Domizio

Corporal Frank Domizio has been with the Philadelphia Police Department for 16 years. He is currently assigned to the Department’s Office of Media Relations and Public Affairs where he is the Social Media Community Manager. Frank is also a regular lecturer at Drexel University’s LeBow College of Business on the topics of social media and content strategy.

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