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The Reykjavík Metropolitan Police Social Media Strategy

I wanted to thank you all for a very interesting group of people of which I consider to be at the forefront of new Policing – policing on a new digital front. My name is Thorir Ingvarsson, and serve as a a Detective Inspector for the Reykjavík Metropolitan Police (RMP) in Reykjavík, Iceland, and as of 1 June 2012 as the Social Media Manager. Prior to my appointment, I was a detective in the homicide/ sexual offences unit in Reykjavík.

First, a little bit about Iceland and its police force. Iceland is situated in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean, equidistant between America and Europe. It´s a small country with an area of 103,000 km2 (40,000 sq mi) and a population of around 320,000 people. The Icelandic police serve on a federal level with approximately 650 police officers. There are 15 local police districts throughout the country, each having its own police commissioner. The Reykjavik Metropolitan Police are responsible for the largest police district in Iceland with 300 police officers and a population of more than 200,000 inhabitants. Iceland is one of the more sparsely populated countries in the world, but with one of the highest internet penetration in the world with over 97.8% internet penetration in Dec, 2011, according to the ITU.

In December 2010 the RMP opened up its Facebook site, being the first of the Icelandic police forces to do so. The site caught the attention of the Icelandic public and after one year of operation the Facebook site had 13,000+ fans and became a very active site posting, and more importantly – communicating with the public. This was due to a number of factors. First of all Facebook has a very high penetration count in Iceland, having over 222,000 registered Facebook accounts. Another factor being that the Icelandic police has always been an unarmed police force, one of the very few in the world, living in a small society; having a good relationship with the public being of utmost importance.

When the RMP´s Facebook site was opened the site was run by Police Commisioner Stefán Eriksson and Detective Thorir Ingvarsson. Soon the administrator group was expanded and now a group of 12 people have administrator privileges to the site. A private admin group was created on Facebook where the administrators can speak amongst themselves, discussing areas such as how to tackle various problems that come up. This is extremely important seeing that the speed of communication does not allow for a long response time and waiting for face time with the admin group would take far too long. The group members have several roles, those working in the field are encouraged to post on topics related to their daily work, especially the brighter sides of police work. Others have the responsibilities of moderation of the discussions and posting of press releases and such, as had been done before, but now getting a channel straight to the public, in a way, bypassing the conventional media.

The feeling amongst the group has been that now a direct line of communication has been opened to the public, where the police can publish, yet also engage with the public giving it a whole new dimension; the material gaining life of its own, being discussed, criticized or praised by the public. The public has been very happy with this new step in policing in Iceland and as of August 2012 the RMP´s Facebook site reached 23.000 fans – and is still rising.

Just a couple of examples.

On the 20th of June 2012 the RMP opened its Youtube channel, taking its first steps in building a platform to be able to broadcast its material. The material published there will at first be short infomercials created by the Icelandic traffic authority, which had previously been posted through the RMP´s Facebook site from time to time. Now the RMP has a platform in which it can link and use with their Facebook account, and publish material from partners, such as the traffic authorities but also creating a possibility for innovative employees who would see a chance to produce material suitable for police use on YouTube, e.g. with outside funding, such as non-profit organisations. Two weeks after its launch the channel now has 55 subscribers and just shy of 900 views. The scheduling of new material will hopefully begin this autumn but now enough material is available so that the site will, at least, post a short traffic video every two weeks until May 2013.

On the 25th of June 2012 a first in Icelandic policing was achieved when the RMP´s Facebook site published a post stating the whereabouts of an unmarked car with a traffic camera, that is, where that traffic camera would be situated that day. This was done to enhance the preventive nature of speed enforcement cameras used in the area and increase the awareness of these cameras to the public. This has caused an extensive amount of interesting dialogue with the public through the RMP Facebook site, even people discussing whether speed enforcement cameras are the right way to police. Overall this has been met with great enthusiasm from the public. There have been a large number of communications coming into the RMP from the public requesting that the cameras be positioned near their home, neighborhood or other places where they feel the need to bring speeds down. To enhance the effect of these posts, they are then followed by a comment at the end of the day, stating what result this speed enforcement yielded. This has also been very well received and gives the public information regarding whether this is truly paying off. A typical post at the beginning of the day would look like this:

Translation: Today, Monday, police will monitor speed using an unmarked police car. The speed check will be performed at Bugðu, in Norðlingaholt, and Barónstíg, in the Þingholt. (street names and areas). Both locations have been chosen due to request from the inhabitants close to these locations.

At the end of the day another posting is made:

Translation: 13 offences were recorded today at Bugða in Reykjavík. Vehicles traveling east Bugða, at Kólguvað in Norðlingaholt, were monitored. In one hour, after noon, 24 vehicles drove past and a majority (54%) of these were going too fast. The average speed of those offenders was 45 km/hr but at that location there is a 30 km/hr max speed. The one traveling the fastest was driving at 54 km/hr.

It will be very interesting to follow how the public will relate to these posts and the information given in them. Bearing in mind that the unmarked police vehicle with the speed camera has been in use for a number of years; and therefore data on previous behaviour is available and is usable to determine if there is a change in the behaviour of the drivers in these spots.

Where do we go from here?

There is no shortage on ideas, Because of the extraordinary support from the chief, I see the social media project taking the RMP further and providing an excellent opportunity for engagement in times where the police has less time for communication using conventional ways. One can also argue that the idea of the police officer walking his or her beat, could actually be tranfered into a digital reality where the public are spending more and more of their time. In addition to thinking of more ways for the public to engage with its police force, to ask, to give opinions and to make recommendations on how the police operate strengthening the ties and empowering the public.

In the next months the RMP will further explore how Social media can serve as a good tool in the policing toolchest. We will keep you informed.

Thorir Ingvarsson, is a Detective Inspector for the Reykjavík Metropolitan Police (RMP) in Reykjavík, Iceland. The Reykjavik Metropolitan Police Force is a finalist in the Large Agency category for the ConnectedCOPS Awards. Winners will be announced on September 11th, in Richmond, VA at The SMILE Conference™.

City of London, UK Police launches smartphone app

The Socionical Crowd Sourcing app, which has been developed in conjunction with the London School of Economics, enables visitors to the City to download real-time information about the Force and vital information as a result of a serious or catastrophic incident in the city. The app is now available to download from the app store.

Not only will the information available cover policing priorities, wards policing information and location of useful resources, but direct feeds from the Force Twitter and website will keep users up to date with important messages.

Sgt Rebecca Walker from Emergency Planning, who has been at the forefront of ensuring the app has come to fruition said, “As well as giving people information about the Force, the app can let us send out messages in the event of a major incident, which is extremely valuable.”

In addition, the most unique and interesting part of the app is that it can create real time crowd sourcing maps which will allow the Force to monitor the density and movement of crowds. This can help to inform our policing response during emergencies or events”.

Users will have the choice of opting in to be part of the crowd sourcing, and a trial at the Lord Mayors Show proved to be successful in terms of tracking crowd density.

Much work has been done in terms of the legal and privacy implications of the app, which means very clear communications around data protection and privacy, ensuring that users feel safe and comfortable in using the app whilst in the City.

The app comes as part of an EU funded project ensuring the communities within the City of London have access to important information at no cost to the Force.

For further information, contact Christine Townsend @ceetownsend

What is your stance on social media?

A post-doctoral research study on law enforcement and social media

Which police officer wouldn’t want social media? We only need to read through this blog to come across example after example of how social media benefit police practices: from relationship building with communities to garnering citizen support in investigations to new ways to inform or collect evidence. Still, I realized this is not a rhetorical question.

In the last two years, my colleagues in the COMPOSITE project and I conducted hundreds of interviews with police officers throughout Europe, amongst other things about their attitudes towards social media – and we were surprised by the variation in attitudes, acceptance, and ultimately extent of usage we found across police officers. Many were openly enthusiastic, such as one UK community officer about Twitter: “It’s just one of these tools that no one expects to have that much of a positive effect … You just need to hit as many people as you can, and this is the only way to do it. This is the only way I can guarantee that I can speak to 520 people every day”. In other countries police officers were rather critical, because they feared “to lose control” over their interactions with the public or simply didn’t “trust private companies like Facebook and Twitter with my data”. Confronted with practices in other forces – for instance experiments with Skype and 3D-video links in the Netherlands as replacements for the reporting of minor crimes in person (Click here for a demonstration in Dutch) – raised eye brows and incredulous shaking of the head were very common reactions.

These differences in acceptance and practices are not only of academic interest. Many police forces worldwide are currently implementing or planning to implement social media. What are the reactions they can expect from their officers? Moreover, international collaborations can run into problems, if specific practices and the acceptance of these practices collide.

But what are the factors that influence, whether police officers are willing to use social media in their work or not? At the moment, we lack a good answer. To find an answer we currently started an online study into social media use and acceptance in police forces. Our main objectives are to better understand what influences the degree of acceptance of social media use by police officers, and in this context obtain a better overview of the current use of social media across countries.

Yet, to make this study a success, I need your support! Therefore:

Please participate.
The survey is online and can be filled out anonymously. This will take about 8-10 minutes. We are looking for broad participation – including officers that already use social media in their work and those who do not. (We are interested in personal opinions, so even if you have no personal experience with social media, as long as you have an opinion on the topic, please take part!)

The survey is accessible online: http://erim.3uu.de/uc/pbayerl/83ec/ [8-10 minutes]

More information about who runs the study and the use of the data can be found below.

Many thanks for your support!

Background information on the study
Who runs this study?
The study is conducted in the context of the COMPOSITE project, which is an EU-funded research project on organizational changes in European police. The study itself is led by Dr. P. Saskia Bayerl at the Rotterdam School of Management, Erasmus University, Netherlands.

How will we use the data?
We are bound by strict rules about data protection and security concerning the handling and storage of information. This means that data will only be accessible by the principal investigator, and that all data will only be used for academic purposes. The data we collect is anonymous, i.e., we will not ask for any information that can be traced back to an individual officer.

Where will you hear about the results?
You will be able to read about the results here on ConnectedCops.
The COMPOSITE project: COMPOSITE (“Comparative Police Studies in the EU”) is an international, interdisciplinary research project for the comparative study of organizational change in police forces across Europe. The project is partially funded by the European Commission in the context of the FP7-program. This four year project started in August 2010 and involves fifteen research partners from ten countries: Belgium, the Czech Republic, France, Germany, Italy, the Republic of Macedonia, the Netherlands, Romania, Spain, and the United Kingdom. The fifteen participating organizations include universities, business schools, police academies, technical research institutes and consultancy organizations. Moreover, twenty-five police forces from the participating countries are actively involved in the research and support us in translating academic research results into the implications for police practice.

P. Saskia Bayerl (short biography): Dr. Petra Saskia Bayerl is a post-doctoral researcher at the Rotterdam School of Management, Erasmus University, Netherlands. She received her PhD from Delft University of Technology, the Netherlands (2010; Faculty of Industrial Design Engineering). She further holds master degrees in Psychology (MSc, Giessen University, Germany), Linguistics (MA, Giessen University) and Organizational Dynamics (MA, University of Oklahoma, USA). In the past she has done research on participative leadership in US police forces and on the impact of changing information and communication technologies on team work in the offshore oil industry. Since 2010 she is member of the EU-funded project “Comparative Police Studies in the EU” (COMPOSITE, www.composite-project.eu). Her current research focuses on the link between technological and organizational change with a special emphasis on social media, the role of identity and leadership in the organizational change process, as well as online impression formation and management.

Dr. P. Saskia Bayerl
Rotterdam School of Management
Erasmus University
Burgemeester Oudlaan 50
3062 PA Rotterdam
The Netherlands
Email: pbayerl@composite.rsm.nl

ConnectedCOPS Awards Finalists press release

LAwS Communications announced finalists in the ConnectedCOPS™ Awards, a new awards program for law enforcement using social media. The ConnectedCOPS Awards were created with the intent of recognizing the great work being done with social media in six categories, by individual sworn officers and law enforcement agencies. Winners will be announced at The SMILE Conference™ in Richmond, Va. on September 10, 2012.

“The ConnectedCOPS Awards are setting the bar for law enforcement agencies and officers,” said Lauri Stevens of LAwS Communications. “Until now they had nothing to gauge their work against. Now they will have examples of excellent work to strive to equal or improve upon.”

Joseph Porcelli, the director of engagement services for GovDelivery and GovLoop said, “LAwS Communications through the ConnectedCOPS Awards has filled the needed gap to recognize the contributions made by law enforcement organizations and individuals, which up until now have not received the credit they deserve.”

The ConnectedCOPS Awards finalists are:

Social Media Incident Management Award (Individual or Agency) (Sponsored by Nixle)

  • Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department, California
  • New South Wales Police, Australia
  • Queensland Police Service, Australia

Social Media Investigator Award (Individual) (Sponsored by LexisNexis)

  • Detective Ian Barraclough, Vancouver Police
  • Detective Mark Fenton, Vancouver Police
  • Detective Patricia van Dalen, Dutch Police, The Hague

Award of Excellence at a Large Agency

  • New South Wales Police, Australia
  • Reykjavik Metropolitan Police, Iceland
  • Toronto Police Service, Canada

Award of Excellence at a Small Agency

  • Billerica Police, Massachusetts
  • Redlands Police, California
  • Redwood City Police, California

Top Cop Award (Individual)

  • Gordon Scobbie, Deputy Chief Constable, Tayside, Scotland
  • Henk Van Der Linden, Rotterdam Police, Netherlands
  • Peter Sloly, Toronto Police, Canada
  • Stuart Hyde, Chief Constable, Cumbria Police, UK

Leadership Award (Individual)

  • Constable Ed Rogerson, Harrogate Police, North Yorkshire, UK
  • Constable Scott Mills, Toronto Police, Canada
  • Sergeant Jay Turner, Hamilton Police, Canada
  • Sergeant Rob Sutton, Portsmouth City Central Police,
  • Portsmouth, Hampshire, UK
  • Special Constable Tom Stirling, North Yorkshire Police, UK

The first annual ConnectedCOPS Awards will be presented at the sixth Social Media the Internet and Law Enforcement (SMILE) Conference on September 10-12, 2012 in Richmond, Va. Winners in the above six categories will be honored and their achievement recognized. The SMILE Conference brings together one of the largest assemblages of law enforcement professionals from around the world to address the topics of social media strategy, reputation management, policy and other issues pertaining to community outreach. The three-day event will also emphasize information sharing and homeland security.

The sixth SMILE Conference is hosted by the Richmond Police Department. There will be a Town Hall meeting on Tuesday, September 11, to further explore and discuss issues concerning social media and law enforcement that could not be fully addressed during the plenary session. For more information please visit http://www.TheSMILEConference.com.

The international panel of judges are:

Sponsor Representatives

  • Nixle – Travis Scott, Vice President
  • LexisNexis – Susan Crandall, Marketing Lead, Law Enforcement

International Media Partners

International Support Partners

For award criteria, rules and judging information see http://www.ConnectedCOPS.net/ConnectedCOPSAwards.

About LAwS Communications

LAwS Communications has been providing interactive media advice to law enforcement since 2005. Open Source communication technologies available today allow organizations to efficiently gather and distribute information like never before. LAwS Communications works with law enforcement professionals to help make sense of the tools available, help agencies craft a plan and social media policy as well as provide the training needed. LAwS Communications can help law enforcement organizations not only understand why an agency should take advantage of social media technologies, but also how to leverage these vast resources. LAwS Communications is located in Newbury, Massachusetts. It is a subsidiary of Stevens & Associates Inc.

For more information, please visit http://lawscommunications.com.

ConnectedCOPS Awards 2012: Finalists announced for Leadership Award

The ConnectedCOPS Leadership Award finalists have been determined. Approximately two dozen nominations for 21 officers from three countries were received for this award. The finalists in this category are pioneers, have demonstrated exemplary leadership and have mentored their peers.

Dale Stockton is a Senior Editor at Law Officer magazine, and one of seven judges for this category. “Leadership is so incredibly important in public safety, especially when you’re entering a relatively new area like social media,” he said, and added “It is really encouraging to see so many powerful examples of individuals who have stepped up and are leading the way for others.”

ConnectedCOPS Leadership Award

This award is given to the individual officer up to and including the rank of Sergeant (or its international equivalent) at any worldwide law enforcement agency who has singularly demonstrated exemplary and selfless leadership in the use of social media to improve public safety and/or enhance his or her agency’s community engagement and reputation. This individual is creative, innovative and fearless and shares what s/he knows by mentoring others, participating in public speaking opportunities and leading by example.

Because there were so many great leaders nominated in this category, the judges selected five finalists. They are listed below in no significant order:

Special Constable Tom Stirling, North Yorkshire, United Kingdom
Special Constable Tom Stirling worked diligently to bring the North Yorkshire Police Service into digital communications on his own time by designing a mobile application. He then taught himself how to program the app resulting in “NYP mobile”, the first mobile app in policing in England, all at no cost to his department. His work has earned him the “Outstanding Police Communicator” Award from the Association of Police Communicators and has been emulated by other departments.

Police Constable Ed Rogerson, North Yorkshire, United Kingdom
Police Constable Ed Rogerson is regarded as possibly the first officer in the UK to use social media for community engagement. Rogerson is nationally and internationally known for his use of social media and is often cited as an example of best practice. He regularly speaks at professional events about his use of social media in policing. His work has gained him near celebrity status among youth in the UK as they recognize him from Twitter and YouTube.

Constable Scott Mills, Toronto Police Service, Canada
Constable Mills is highly regarded as a global leader in police adoption of social media. One of his foremost qualities is that he works in service of others, in relentless pursuit to improve public safety and support others to do the same. Mills is the quintessential pioneer and has put in countless hours, he has endured much criticism from those who don’t or won’t understand, and yet he persists. Through his sincere and consistent approach, Mills has even gained support and a considerable following from unlikely groups, including gang members and activists.

Sergeant Rob Sutten, Portsmouth City Central Police, United Kingdom
Sergeant Sutten has been the leader and champion at the Hampshire Constabulary in the UK for his groundbreaking local use of Twitter. He is said to be innovate, charismatic and jovial. With his media department, he developed a fictional character called “Ninah” to develop crime prevention messages for children and incorporated humor and games. Ninah also tweets real-time updates about committed offenses, the thrill of her chase, as well as the arrest and result of conviction.

Sergeant Jay Turner, Hamilton Police Service, Canada
Sergeant Turner has taken Twitter use to a new level and is widely regarded as innovative and humorous. Because of the strength of his messaging on Twitter, he has significantly improved the public communication from HPS to citizens. Sergeant Turner mentors others at HPS, having personally developed five of the agency’s seven accounts, overcoming reluctance from his colleagues and supervisors.

This is the final awards category to be announced this week. Finalists in the other awards categories were announced earlier in the week on this blog and can be found at the links provided below. Winners will be announced September 10th at The SMILE Conference™ in Richmond, Virginia.

Previous finalists were announced earlier this week:

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.

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