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It’s been a bit of a stressful month for criminal justice professionals.

Probation and prison services have been falling out over their competing alliances with different private sector companies.

Police officers now have to do annual fitness tests, although won’t be paid on the number of arrests they make.

So, in the spirit of FinallyFriday, here are some lighter stories from the world of crime to ease you into the weekend.

Judgement Day

Did you hear the one about the man who prised a Judge’s nameplate from the courtroom door and then posted a photo of himself with it on his girlfriend’s Facebook page?

Pretty silly?

Absolutely ridiculous when you factor in the detail that by stealing the nameplate, he violated the terms of his parole and, owing to his numerous previous convictions for petty theft, is being charged with a felony.

Inside Job

Or how about the woman who went to visit her brother who was being detained at the local police station on suspicion of assaulting her Facebook friend.

The brother was eventually released without charge.

However, she ended up being convicted of “sending a menacing message” and was ordered to do 100 hours unpaid work.

All because, while she was at the police station, she posted on the Facebook wall of the friend who had been arrested:

“You #!~&*#! grass… I am gong to stab you… I will kill you.”



Breaking News

Finally. Two teenagers broke into CNN’s newsroom in Atlanta, Georgia in the early hours of the morning by climbing over a ledge from a neighbouring hotel.

No-one knows what their intentions were as they got distracted by all the state-of-the art newsroom computers.

When the police arrested them at 3.30 in the morning, they were in the middle of checking their Facebook pages.

Disappointingly, they were arrested before they had the chance to post witty status updates or in situ photos.


Have a great weekend.

This post was previously published at RussellWebster.com.

Social Media Quick Tip: Understand the New Facebook Timeline

Facebook has been rolling out the new Timeline for the past several weeks. It will become mandatory by the end of the month. As with all social media, with the new Timeline comes new opportunities, new challenges and new threats (to officer safety).

But first, let’s look at the opportunity. Probably the sweetest thing about the new Timeline is the opportunity to visually portray historical information. What a great and incredibly easy way for you to educate citizens about your agency’s history and show off all those cool cop photos gathering dust somewhere.

I haven’t been able to find a police department making great use of the Timeline in this way yet, but Old Spice has nailed it. Check out the Old Spice Facebook Timeline for a great example that is not only informative but entertaining as well.

There are two ways to add items to your Timeline, here are the instructions direct from Facebook.

1. From the top of your timeline:

Pick the type of story you want to add (example: photo, life event)
Add any details you want to add
Use the menu at the bottom of the box to tag friends, pick a date for the story, and add a location
Select an audience for your post (Note: By default, life events start off as public)

2. From anywhere on your Timeline: Scroll to a spot on your timeline and click + to post a story to a specific date.

To see the + symbol, place your cursor over the vertical line running through the time in the center of the page. When it turns into a + , click it.

Note: At the risk of stating the obvious, please take note that people who want to make it look like they were in a different place at a particular day and time, might utilize the new Timeline to do that. It’s important that investigators take note.

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

#stapo24 at Zurich City Police

Since November 2011, the Zurich City Police has been using Facebook and Twitter for an open dialogue with the community. Together with the University of Applied Sciences in Business Administration Zurich, they planned a Twitter day called “#stapo24”. Over a 24-hour period the Zurich City Police tweeted each of the 250 incidents it dealt with. Every tweet was marked with the hashtag #stapo24. In doing so, anyone could follow the variety of police operations in real time. The Twitter day “#stapo24” attracted a lot of attention as well in Switzerland as abroad. Meanwhile, the #stapo24 day was evaluated. The key figures are summarized in an infographic.

Note: Michael Wirz is the Deputy Chief Information Officer at Zurich City Police.

Policing with Twitter

Social Media and Policing the Community

Note: This post was previously published at onthebeat101.

In this first feature on technology I’ll be exploring the role of social media in community policing. What role do services like Twitter and Facebook have to play in policing the community and in the lives of PCSOs? Are they time wasters or can they help officers be in touch with the areas and citizens they are responsible for?

There are more PCSOs, police officers and police services on Twitter than ever before – some with over 1,500 followers – so what are they tweeting about, who’s listening and what’s the point?

The police’s use of Twitter and social media has been severely criticised in some quarters – Fiona McEvoy, of the TaxPayers’ Alliance, said: ‘The police should be catching criminals, not wasting time on social websites…‘These diversions are not necessary and ultimately cost the taxpayer money.’

PCSO with over 1,500 Twitter followers

After last summer’s riots and the subsequent reports into their causes, it became apparent that better relations between police and communities were essential. One of the key issues that people involved in the disorder cited again and again was a hostile relationship with the police, based around dislike, distrust and even hatred.

One of the suggestions of the HMIC report was:

“The development of a far more systematic and structured approach to community engagement by neighbourhood policing teams and other local policing assets”

Improving relations relies upon improving communication. Communities need and deserve to understand what the police do on a day-to-day basis, as well as what long term projects they’re involved in and what goals they are working towards. Churning out “success stories” in press releases just isn’t enough anymore.

Life on the beat is not like TV

PCSO Simon Latham

PCSO Simon Latham,who has some 600 followers, believes Twitter can play an important role in raising PCSOs profile. He told onthebeat101: ”Some people do not know what a PCSO does; as PCSOs have had bad press in the past so it is an opportunity to showcase the work we carry out on a daily basis. It should also help people understand that life on the beat is not always like it is portrayed in some TV programmes.”

We interviewed PCSO Andy Ryan, a big presence in the PCSO twittersphere with over 1,500 followers. He told us: “neighbourhood policing is about listening and communicating with your community and identifying new ways to do that”.

Pierre Petrou

A friendly face behind the police

The joy of twitter is that it’s all about interaction and engagement. A personal PCSO or police service Twitter account allows quick and cheap communication of what they’re doing.

Pierre Petrou, Head of Business Operations at MPS Camden, who manages the Camden MPS Twitter account, explains the benefits of Twitter to a police service…

PCSO Simon Latham says: “My use of Twitter is generally informative – updates into my day’s activities, crime prevention, appeals for information, and generally a way of interacting with users – some local to my patch, others not. Twitter offers a platform to show a friendly face behind the name and a contact within the police.”

Indeed, the Met told On the Beat 101 that “The MPS use of Twitter and other social media tool is to increase direct engagement with the public”.

Twitter increases engagement with the public

Reading updates on your phone has an immediacy that’s second only to talking face to face. Tweeting updates on police work is so fast it captures the moment and gives a feel of how policing works.

PCSO Andy Ryan says Twitter “lets me inform the local community about what the team are doing to solve local issues in the community that have been raised as a concern”.

PCSO Simon Latham agrees: “There is a huge twitter audience who may not have contact with the police usually, and Twitter is a quick, easy and modern way of communicating with them and the outside world especially people who aren’t from the police. It is also useful for information, as after building a rapport with users, they are willing to provide information – for example on crime, abandoned vehicles, issues affecting their neighbourhood.”

And if communities can understand how policing functions and what it’s about, perhaps trust can be restored.

Twitter and Facebook accounts are free

However, even if it’s free to set up a Twitter or Facebook account, developing a strategy for social media engagement does take time and energy – but it’s worth having one. And of course different forces will have different approaches.

Pierre Petrou, who is responsible for sending out the tweets from the MPS Camden Twitter account, describes how often he tweets and why…

On the Beat has learnt that the MPS ran several pilot Twitter schemes in London boroughs first. After this period, boroughs that wanted an account could apply to the Met for one. The Met told us that they now “aim to have all 32 boroughs up and running with Twitter accounts in the near future”. Pierre Petrou told onthebeat101 that: “The management boards at the Met have decided that social media is the way forward.”

Onthebeat101’s Twitter pageBoth individual PCSOs and police officers tweeting personally and police services need to think carefully about when and what to tweet. All sorts of people follow PCSO and police service Twitter accounts: members of the local community, local businesses, friends, journalists as well as other officers and services.

PCSO Simon Latham told us about how he uses Twitter: “Tweeting does not take long. Generally, I access Twitter for around 5-10 mins a day. It only takes 20 seconds to type out a tweet so does not distract me from my daily patrolling duties.

Pierre Petrou agrees that officers needn’t spend too long on Twitter!

Read More:

You can find out more in our full interview with PCSO Andy Ryan – one of the most popular PCSOs on Twitter, and by reading our Top Tips for PCSOs on Twitter. The Met told onthebeat101 that they are launching a new Twitter page on their website soon, so keep your eyes peeled for that! You can also listen to our full interview with Pierre Petrou of Camden MPS.

And if you’re still unsure about starting tweeting or what to tweet about, take a look at our Top PCSOs on Twitter. Why not follow us: @onthebeat101

Here's who's SMILE'n in #Vancouver

Less than a week from now, law enforcement professionals from five countries (Canada, Netherlands, U.S., UK, Australia) will gather in Vancouver to share best practices and ideas in law enforcement use of social media and the Internet. The SMILE Conference™ will occur March 26-29 at the Fairmont Vancouver.

LAwS Communications is producing the Vancouver event in partnership with the Canadian Association of Chiefs of Police. The SMILE Conference™ began just under two years ago in April in Washington, D.C. Subsequent conferences occurred in Santa Monica, Chicago and Dallas, with each city’s Police Department hosting. The Vancouver event is the fifth event and the first to be held outside of the United States.

Follow hashtag #SMILEcon and, if you can’t be in Vancouver, feel free to tweet your questions to our assembled group of experts. Additionally, some sessions will be streamed live at The SMILE Conference website.

Here’s a look at the agencies who will be represented at The SMILE Conference.

  • Abbotsford Police Department
  • American Military University
  • B.C. Securities Commission
  • Barrie Police
  • Canadian Association of Chiefs of Police
  • Calgary Police Service
  • Canadian Pacific Police Service
  • Chatham-Kent Fire Department
  • Coquiltam, City of
  • Coquitlam RCMP
  • Dave.ca Communications
  • Delta Police Department
  • Department of Fisheries and Oceans
  • Department of Justice Canada
  • Dutch Police
  • Edmonton Police Service
  • El Monte Police Department, California
  • Federal Bureau of Investigation
  • Halifax Regional Police
  • Hamilton Police Service
  • IBM
  • InterChange Public Affairs
  • LAwS Communications
  • Lethbridge Regional Police Service
  • Manitoba Department of Justice
  • Medicine Hat Police Service
  • Metro Vancouver Crime Stoppers
  • Ministry of Community Safety and Correctional Services
  • Ministry of Justice, Police Services Division
  • Montreal Police Service
  • National Search & Rescue Sec.
  • Nelson Police Department
  • Net-L3.com
  • New Westminster Police Department
  • Nishnawbe Aski Police
  • Oak Bay Police Department
  • Ontario Association of Police Educators
  • Ontario Provincial Police
  • Ottawa Police Service
  • Peel Regional Police
  • PoliceOne
  • Power Corporation of Canada
  • Prince Albert Police Service
  • Raytheon Network Centric Solutions
  • Regina Police Service
  • Ribbet Inc.
  • Royal Canadian Mounted Police
  • Royal Turks and Caicos Islands Police
  • Saanich Police
  • Saskatoon Police Service
  • Sceneverse Inc.
  • Service de police de la Ville de Québec
  • Service de police de la Ville de Gatineau
  • Sierra Systems
  • Six Nations Police
  • Social Catalyst Inc.
  • Sûreté du Québec
  • Surrey, City of
  • Surrey RCMP
  • Tayside Police, Scotland
  • Toddington International
  • Toronto Police Service
  • Transit Police
  • University of Wollongong
  • Vancouver Police Department
  • Vermont State Police
  • Victoria Police Department
  • Waterloo Regional Police Service
  • Windsor Police Service
  • Winnipeg Police Service
  • York Regional Police

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