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Highlights of What The World Overheard at #SMILEcon Vancouver

Can the police and community have their cake..and eat it too in the digital world we now live in?

Community and police collaboration for success and safety worldwide reached a new level of trust and understanding this week at The SMILE Conference in Vancouver. The event was co-produced by LAwS Communications and the Canadian Association of Chiefs of Police.

LAwS Communications and the Canadian Association of Chiefs of Police are to be congratulated for their hosting of the 5th Social Media, Internet Law Enforcement conference, affectionately known as The SMiLE Conference March 25 – 28, 2012 in Vancouver, BC Canada. Raytheon, Lexis Nexis, and American Military University deserve special mention for their sponsorship of this conference.

More than one hundred fifty delegates attended the event that featured presentations and networking on the “how to” use social media platforms to help stop, solve and prevent crimes together worldwide.

The mutual respect and understanding that was generated among the delegates in the room spread far beyond the venue as tweets and Facebook posts back and forth between community members and police worldwide using the twitter hash tag #smilecon.

A highlight of the event was a Panel Discussion moderated by Deputy Chief Peter Sloly of Toronto Police titled “Social Activism, Policing, Privacy and New Challenges”on Tuesday, March 27th that featured Mr. Dave Teixeira of Vancouver, President of Dave.ca Communications, Ms. Paisley Rae, a community builder from Toronto, Dr. Kristene Unsworth, Assistant Professor from Drexel University who joined via Skype from Berlin, Germany, Constable Anne Longley, Social Media Officer, Vancouver Police Department.

The outcome of this panel went far beyond the objective listed in the program as:

From hockey riots to the G20 forum of world leaders, today’s policy leaders are facing new challenges posed by new media and the people who use them. These panelists have either lived within the frenzy of citizen protest, studied the ramifications of privacy infringement, or actively managed the experience from a police perspective. The panel is moderated by one of the world’s foremost leaders in social media in policing.

Part 1:

Part 2:

It became very apparent that the community expects police to “get human” and “be human” in real life and in social media. When the police make a mistake, the public expect to hear the words “I’m sorry” from the leaders of their policing organizations. It also was very apparent that the police were demanding more participation than ever before form the public in community safety efforts, and that the police were at the table and prepared to listen to the community.

Community Volunteer @PaisleyRae Meets The Hague Police

Paisley Rae & Guus Auerbach

Perhaps the best outcome of this conference for me was speaker and conference delegate Mr. Guus Auerbach, Chief of Digital Forensics at The Hague Police Service speaking with community member Paisley Rae after this panel about exactly how social media was being used to facilitate lawful, peaceful protest at The Hague in collaboration with politicians, the police and activists. It was heartwarming to see the passion of these two brilliant minds talk candidly about saving lives and making the world a better, safer and more peaceful place for everyone. Auerbach said “We’ve always focused on the chances, not the threats that social media brings us. The chances are winning and they are very diverse.”

I urge anyone who was at SMILE, watched it from afar on the live streams or haven’t yet check it out to spend a few hours reviewing the content of this conference, as well as the four previous SMILE Conferences in Washington, DC, Chicago, Illinois, Santa Monica, California and Dallas, Texas.

The world is changing, and it is changing for the better. Social media communication platforms are allowing the people to speak, and the voices are being heard!

The irony of this tweet from Paisley Rae upon leaving Vancouver is what community is all about. I met Paisley Rae on twitter during a chaotic G20 weekend in June 2011 in Toronto. She was angry and letting her anger at Toronto Police show loud and clear on twitter. In my capacity of social media officer for the Toronto Police Service I conveyed words to the effect on twitter that said “I’m sorry”.

As I boarded the plane home with Constable Nathan Dayler of the Toronto Police Service Public Order Unit and the newly appointed Social Media Officer for the Royal Turks and Caicos Police Kevin Clarke I received this tweet from Paisley Rae. (For context, my twitter name is “GraffitiBMXCop”

From: @paisleyrae
Sent: Mar 28, 2012 2:23p

@eva_starlily Armed with arms & Dangerous: suspicious person. Warning – will hug you. @GraffitiBMXCop

sent via UberSocial for BlackBerry in reply to @eva_starlily
On Twitter: http://twitter.com/paisleyrae/status/185114911540658176

#OccupyTO #OWS Meets @DeputySloly On Twitter

I will conclude this blog post with a tweet I saw shortly before boarding the plane home from the Vancouver SMiLE Conference from Daniela Aum, a Toronto based activist who was involved in G20 and the Occupy Toronto movement. The tweet says it all about the outcome and value of the Vancouver SMILE Conference.

From: @daniela_aum
Sent: Mar 28, 2012 6:19p

reading solution oriented tweet convos bewtween #Occupy & @TorontoPolice = wonderful. Well done @DeputySloly

sent via Twitter for iPhone
On Twitter: http://twitter.com/daniela_aum/status/185129132731006977

Think of the possibilities if officers from around the world are engaging with their communities using social media for success and safety.

It looks like the community and the police can have their cake….and eat it too!

The event was live streamed on the LAwSComm UStream channel for the world to see, hear and share by a collaboration of officers led by RCMP Ontario Communications Specialist Jean Turner-Floyd, assisted by Constable Stephen Welton of Hamilton Police Service, Constable Rebecca Boyd and Stephanie Mackenzie-Smith of York Regional Police and Constables Nathan Dayler and Scott Mills of Toronto Police Service.

The next SMiLE Conference occurs September 10th, 11th, 12th, 2012 hosted by Chief Bryan T. Norwood and the men and women of the Richmond, Virginia Police Department.

This will be the occasion of the first annual ConnectedCops Awards sponsored by Lexis Nexis, Nixle and partnered with The SMILE Conference, Crime Stoppers International, Gov Loop, The Social Media Monthly magazine, The Association of Chief Police Officers, Public Communications Worldwide, Law Offficer and PoliceOne. Award descriptions and other details are available at ConnectedCOPS.net. Nominations will be open April 1st through May 31st. Judging will take place June 1st through July 31st.

Game Changers: Future Technologies for First Responders

Consider these three scenarios:

  • You’re on patrol and receive a call that there’s a shooter armed with an AK-47 at a military facility. He’s taken out the gate guards and is opening fire on anyone he approaches.
  • A terrorist enters LAX Terminal 4 with a bomb-like device strapped to his body. He approaches the ticket counter, is identified by the desk personnel and LAPD is notified. He’s got a gun and everyone’s on the floor.
  • According to intelligence reports, a suspect with a deadly gas device is expected to enter a local state building in 30 minutes.

In each of these cases, there’s a gap between the technologies that first responders have access to in the field now – and those that are already on the market or will be available in the future. For public safety leaders at the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) Public Safety Network Systems Laboratory’s first counterterrorism workshop in December, that future became reality during mock crisis response exercises. Among the attendees were representatives from the FBI, LAPD, Los Angeles World Airports, City of Los Angeles Emergency Management, San Bernardino County Sheriff’s Department and the University of Southern California’s (USC) CREATE Homeland Security Center.

These participants were asked to create a wish list of technologies they would find helpful during emergencies and routine operations. Among those listed were the following:

  • Next Generation 9-1-1 that can receive incident-related pictures from mobile phones with geo-location data attached. Also, social media posts and tweets sent from the public that contain longitude and latitude coordinates.
  • Communications systems that are interoperable, resilient, redundant and secure. By implication this means first responders should be able to communicate with each other through an open architecture system that integrates any communications device.
  • Facial recognition technologies and Future Attribute Screening Technology (FAST) that can help identify people who may be dangerous.
  • Automated license plate readers at key facilities or a city’s entry and exit points for alerting and investigative purposes.
  • Blue Force Tracking that shows where members are in three dimensions. This could be used within buildings and include building schematics.

We’re well aware of the privacy concerns that have been raised over marketing, government and law enforcement’s ease of accessibility to the reams of personal information available online and through social media. As the group stressed, the key would be to identify and address any such concerns when these technologies are being designed for public safety use, not after the fact.

While this wish list looks great on paper, the real question is who will take the time to lift these technologies off the page and make them a cost-efficient resource for first responders. One avenue that’s available is Raytheon’s new Public Safety Regional Technology Center in Downey, Calif., near Los Angeles. This 27,000-square-foot center opened in February with a focus on developing, testing and certifying current and future public safety technologies.

Several cutting-edge Raytheon technologies that are battlefield-tested and have been adapted for the public safety market are on display and can be tried out at the facility. There’s the Boomerang shooter detection system that helps immediately locate the source of firearms being discharged; the Controlled Impact Rescue Tool, which is capable of cutting through a reinforced concrete wall up to four times faster than traditional methods of drilling or sawing; and TransTalk, a mobile phone app that directly translates languages, including a soon-to-be-released English-to-Spanish version.

The Public Safety Regional Technology Center has been built for all first responders, regardless of your badge or uniform color. Everyone, from police and fire to other emergency personnel, is welcome to use the facility for testing purposes or to propose an idea that can be collaboratively worked on by academic researchers, industry and the public safety community. This place is bringing forth tomorrow’s technologies today to reduce public safety costs and most importantly, save lives.

To learn more about the Public Safety Regional Technology Center and view photos, visit this link. For information on the UCLA Public Safety Network Systems Laboratory, email UCLAWorkshop@finnpartners.com or contact me on Twitter @mikebostic.

Photo: Flickr/ruoshin

Related: UCLA Lab Focuses on New Technology for First Responders

Social Media Quick Tip: Choose Your Facebook Cover Photo Wisely

The most prominent feature of Facebook’s new Timeline is the cover photo. It’s a nice wide area in which individuals or brands can post an image that highlights who they are. For police agencies, an appropriate photo might be a department photo, or a nice landscape image of the police facility, etc.

Individual officers, however, need to pay careful attention to what they post here. These cover photos aren’t protectable. Anyone and everyone who comes to your page will see this photo. As police officers, it’s not recommended that you put up a photo of your family for obvious safety reasons.

If it’s a personal page, this isn’t the place to post a photo indicating, in any way, that you’re a police officer. Instead, take great care in choosing your cover photo, considering all the officer safety and career survival issues.

For investigators, the cover photo might be a real opportunity if your POI’s haven’t exercised caution in what they place there. Remember: Those who would do you harm are employing the same social engineering techniques on you as you do on them.

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

Social Media Quick Tip: Understand Facebook's Private Messaging & Admin Access Changes

It used to be that if your agency had a fan page (as opposed to an individual profile) your fans couldn’t send your organization private messages. With the new Facebook layout, rolling out at the end of March, fans can now send private messages to any brand, agency or organization. The message button appears right below the cover photo on the right side. To turn off this feature, go to the setting pages and select Manage Permissions, then uncheck the box that says Show Message Button.

If left on, the new feature poses challenges and opportunities for agencies. In addition to providing a private way for citizens to offer evidence or tips to law enforcement, it also means agencies should monitor those messages.

In order to stay on top of the messages, an agency might want to give admin access to additional individuals within the organization, which also adds new challenges. Giving access to other individuals lessens the workload for the main admin, but you may not want those people to have complete access to your page. The good news there is Facebook plans to initiate levels of admin access.

Facebook has indicated it may have up to five levels of administrative access for pages and plans are to roll them out by the end of March.

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

Facebook Fools 2: Man bites Dog

Today’s frivolous post looks at similar foolhardy acts committed by police and prison officers who really should have known better.

As Alfred Harmsworth famously said: “When a dog bites a man, that is not news, because it happens so often. But if a man bites a dog, that is news.”

We know that police now routinely use Facebook as a source for finding criminals at large. It appears that many officers regularly incriminate themselves in the same way. The results of a Freedom of Information request by the Press Association found that there had been complaints against more than 200 UK police officers for comments or photos posted on Facebook in the last four years. Two officers were sacked, seven quit and more than 150 faced disciplinary charges. This story made all the papers over the Christmas period including the Telegraph.

@DietJustice recently posted a blog with draft social media guidance for police officers and helpfully provided links to some of the more bizarre stories out there.

Macho madness

An Albuquerque police officer was placed on desk duty after he shot dead a criminal in the line of duty when the local television station dug up his Facebook Page on which he stated his profession as “human waste disposal”. Further details from the New York Times.

Sex, Drugs and Scotland Yard

Closer to home a Metropolitan Police Chief Inspector was sacked for gross misconduct for a variety of matters. He was adjudged to have used his position to advertise himself online to meet sexual partners while in uniform. The action that sealed his dismissal, though, was boasting on a dating website of committing a sexual offence and taking drugs. Yes, I did say Chief Inspector.

Supervision by Facebook

Probation services in the US now routinely check the Facebook pages of offenders they supervise for any criminality. It appears that the HR department at HMP Leicester might be doing the same thing. They dismissed a prison officer for associating with serving and former prisoners outside of working hours. Happily, he was so oblivious to his wrong-doing that he added several offenders as friends on his Facebook page. As a result he managed to get national coverage of his dismissal including in the Currant Bun.


We end with my favourite story about how Facebook’s automatic Friend Finder service got Alan, a middle aged Washington state corrections officer, into serious trouble. Alan was delighted to find love again after his first marriage split up and happily got re-married two years later. Unfortunately, he did not bother to get a divorce first. The Friend Finder suggested to Wife#2 that she “Friend” Wife #1 since they appeared to have people in common. She accepted the request and started wondering why her new Facebook Friend has a photo of herself and Alan standing surprisingly close to a wedding cake.

Alan was subsequently charged with bigamy and suspended from his job.

This post was previously published at RussellWebster.com.

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