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Heroes Behind the Badge

Heroes Behind The Badge is a documentary film set for release in the fall of 2012 that will feature some of the brave men and women of law enforcement who put their lives on the line, and survived, and those who made the ultimate sacrifice.

Filmed throughout the U.S., the documentary will highlight the lives of four fallen officers and the impact their passing has had on their family members, colleagues, and their community. The film will also feature the stories of three officers who narrowly escaped their assailants and how their near-fatal encounter has affected their lives. Produced in partnership with the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund (NLEOMF), the film will also highlight the events of National Police Week in Washington, D.C. and all the ceremonial pomp and circumstance that surrounds the event.

Bill Erfurth, a retired Lieutenant from the Miami-Dade Police Department, who served 25 years on the force, is one of the producers on the film. For Erfurth, the project is a labor of love that he believes will create awareness about what it really means to walk the thin blue line. Serving to not only educate audiences about the dangers of law enforcement, the documentary will also benefit the National Law Enforcement Memorial with 50 percent of the proceeds from the film going to the NLEOMF.

To support the cause, take a stand, and initiate a movement against police violence, the producers ask that you would help spread the word about the film throughout your communities. They also ask that you help spread the word online by liking Heroes Behind The Badge on Facebook and by following them on Twitter (@HeroesBTB), or contact them through their website to offer your support.

To pre-order Heroes Behind The Badge, visit the film’s official website: www.heroesbehindthebadge.com.

Social Media Quick Tip: Remove Unwanted Applications on Facebook

If you’ve you clicked through a link on Facebook and installed something you wish you hadn’t, it’s important to delete the application as soon as possible. And even if you haven’t, it’s good practice to check your Facebook account every now and then — once a month or so — to make sure you haven’t inadvertently installed harmful apps.

Here how to do it: In the upper right pull-down menu next to Home, select Account Settings. Next, choose Apps. You will see a list of all the applications you’ve installed.

To the right of each you can:

  1. Edit settings for each application
  2. Click the X to the right of Edit and remove them altogether.

If you’re unsure of an application’s worth, I recommend option #2.

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

Sovereign Citizens, Officer Safety and Social Media

Chief (retired) Bob Paudert

LAwS Communications is teaming up with Chief Bob Paudert to bring officer safety training about the Sovereign Citizens movement to police officers electronically. Details are below.

May 20, 2010 was a very tragic day. Not only because it marks the day when two more officers died in the line of the duty, but for the father of one of those officers, it’s especially tragic because it might have been prevented. Bob Paudert was Chief of Police in West Memphis, Arkansas on that day in May nearly two years ago, when he was driving down Highway 40 with his wife Linda and heard the call that an officer was down. At that point, he didn’t know if it were one of his agency’s officers or another’s, and he surely didn’t expect what he learned when he arrived on the scene. One of the officers gun-downed during a traffic stop, was his own son Sergeant Brandon Paudert and Brandon’s partner Officer Bill Evans. The murderers were Jerry and Joe Kane, father and son. Joe Kane was just 16 years at the time. But due to “training” from his father, not too young to brandish the AK-47 that didn’t give the officers a chance. If you haven’t seen the tragic video of that day’s events, please view it here, before you read further.

The Feds dropped the ball

The Kanes were members of the “Sovereign Citizens” movement. Chief Paudert says if only the federal government had shared more of what it knew about these types of threats to domestic security, his son Brandon and partner Bill might be alive today. Instead, the two officers didn’t know who or what they were dealing with. In a taped interview shortly after the officers were killed, Paudert said they didn’t stand a chance. “… those those bullets fro the AK47 penetrate anything that’s in front of it. Brandon when he took cover, but he just didn’t have cover. It just penetrated and riddled is body with bullets.”

To the Chief, information sharing from the feds to state and local law enforcement has been non-existent and he hasn’t been shy about sharing that opinion. Paudert has had direct and personal contact with Attorney General Eric Holder, as well as with the staff at the FBI’s Domestic Terrorism Unit. Paudert politely points out that the federal government insists they are aware of the problem and are “working on it”, and that he has seen significant changes in these agencies in the recent months. He explained, “the U. S. Attorney has had a representative at each of our conferences to contribute resources and share information with the state and local officers. I have also been in contact with the FBI and they too are participating in the conferences and using the NCIC to alert officers on the possible dangers on traffic stops. With this effort, of all working together and sharing critical information, we will save officers’ lives”. In recent weeks, we’ve seen several main stream news articles indicating that the Feds are finally addressing the issue.

But Chief Paudert is too smart to know the feds aren’t going to take care of business like it needs to happen, so he’s taken it upon himself, as painful as that can be. Every day since that day in 2010 he’s been the spokesperson for educating law officers of the danger of sovereign citizens.

And then he quit his job

In order to meet the needs of the law enforcement community, Chief Paudert quit his post as Chief of Police in West Memphis as of August 31, 2011. On September 1st, he began a non-stop road-trip of public appearances to speak to law enforcement groups about sovereign citizens.

He had been speaking to groups all along but wanted to devote more time to his mission. But, traveling constantly, as the Chief has been doing, can take a toll on self and on family. Paudert has no plans to quit because he feels he’s only scratching the service of what needs to be done to spread his message of officer safety. Instead, he wants to expand his reach to meet a bigger and growing demand.

Early in 2011 I connected with Chief Paudert to present the idea of using the power of social media to more efficiently spread his message to a bigger audience. The Chief’s not a technical guy, not many chiefs are, but he instantly understood the possibilities. In the beginning, he said, he struggled with email, phone and speaking engagements to warn law officers of the dangers of the “insidious sovereign citizens’ movement, calling the task daunting and exhaustive. He added, “With social media we can get our message out to thousands of officers in much less time and cost. Time is certainly a major factor in this mission. The more we reach, the more lives will be saved.” And that’s the bottom line.

First we created a Facebook fan page for the Chief. Please hit the “like” button. If you explore the tabs on the left, you’ll discover resources covering the many dangers of the Sovereign Citizen movement, educational videos, law enforcement tips, and links to a wealth of other information about domestic terrorists at the Southern Poverty Law Center website.

Growing the message

Because the Chief can’t be stretched far enough to meet demand and the need for education in this area, he has teamed up with LAwS Communications to bring his important training – the same training he delivers on the road – to law enforcement in a webinar format.

To begin, we scheduled two dates and times, April 16th at 1:00 p.m. and April 23rd at 6:00 p.m. By holding two webinars, our intention is to accommodate shift changes. At $49, we’ve kept the cost as low as possible and we hope it is within the reach of any agency’s budget.

Here are all the important links you need:

To download the flier with all the info, click here.
To register for the webinars click here.
To find Chief Paudert’s Facebook Fan Page, click here.
The YouTube video (also inserted above), can be found here.
An interview with Paudert by Commercial Appeal, part one, is here.
An interview with Paudert by Commercial Appeal, part two, is here.

The Call to Action: Social Media for Officer Safety

With social media, there is no end to the possible outcomes. Personally, I want to see these tools used strategically by law enforcement agencies in investigations and for community engagement, and also by people like Paudert, who have important information to share. But it doesn’t end here.

We, collectively, are an army…. a really big one. After you attend this webinar, use what you learn to share the information far and wide. Schedule within your social media agenda to tweet one tweet every day just one message to help keep YOUR officers safe. There are many many more officer safety messages to be shared (and we have plans to do so here at LAwS Communications in the future.) If every law enforcement agency on Twitter tweeted just one officer safety message per day, that would be tens of thousands of messages. The really exciting part is that those messages also reach beyond officers into the huge community of supporters. Together, WE CAN squash the hate. All of it, everwhere. At least our voice of support for officer safety initiatives should be louder than the rest.

To register to attend the Sovereign Citizen and Officer Safety Webinar click the links below:

To keep abreast of future news about The SMILE Conference, social media in law enforcement and how LAwS Communications will promote the use of social media to expand messages of officer safety, please join the LAwSComm email list here.

ET Phone Home: Smartphones and crime prevention

Image Courtesy purplelime http://www.flickr.com/photos/purplelime

One of the downsides about any form of new technology is that it is inevitably expensive and attractive to thieves.

Over the years, burglars have focused on Video Recorders, DVD players and, now, Flatscreen TVs. Car thieves have moved from car radios via CD players on to SatNavs, although even those are no longer of sufficient value to interest most opportunists.

In the same way, the advent of mobile phones has been responsible for a sharp increase in the number of muggings, mainly with young people as both perpetrators and victims. This particular crimewave has been revitalised over the last couple of years by the launch of expensive smartphones such as the iPhone, Samsung Galaxy etc. These, along with Tablet computers, retain very high re-sale value and are therefore very robber-friendly.

What got me thinking about this was a helpful conversation I had on the tube earlier this week with a British Transport Police Officer who was kind enough to give me a heads up about using my netbook in such a public place. He told me there had been quite a lot of laptops and iPads snatched on the underground network over the last few weeks. When you’re typing away with your eyes focused on the screen, your peripheral vision and general situational awareness is very low and you make an ideal victim. It’s pretty straightforward for a bunch of ne’er-do-wells to snatch your prized possession out of your hands just before the doors close.

I’ve posted before on this blog on how technology and the advent of social media have been swiftly adopted and adapted both by police services and the criminals they seek to apprehend.

The Fingerprint Branch at New Scotland Yard was created in July 1901 using the Henry System of Fingerprint Classification and it wasn’t long before burglars started wearing gloves. More recently, last August’s rioters outflanked police by their use of the Blackberry Messaging Service whilst police routinely use Facebook to investigate criminal connections and track down those wanted for questioning.

Just as police and criminals adapt, so do technology manufacturers. My British Transport friend told me that he and his colleagues had recently come to the aid of a furious and distraught passenger who had had his iPhone snatched a few stops further down the line. Using the officer’s own iPhone they logged into the victim’s iTunes account and located his phone via the “Find my iPhone” app which he had installed for free.

Sure enough, when they visited the address an hour later, they were able to both recover the phone and make an arrest.

“Find my iPhone” also allows users to remotely lock the phone or wipe it’s data.

I’m hoping that the iPhone5 will take technological crime prevention to the next level.

I’m expecting it to scan any new user’s retina to confirm it has been stolen, and then report the crime itself (by e-mail, text or Twitter), complete with a photo of the thief and current GPS details.

Finnish COP named National Police Officer of the Year for Investigations in Social Media

Sergeant Marko Forss

Sergeant Marko Forss has been a police officer in Helsinki for 14 years. He is known as “Internet Police Officer Fobba”. These days, he’s also called Finland’s Police Officer of the Year. He earned the honor for his work in social media, most notably investigating sex crimes involving young people. His selection as Police Officer of the Year was made by a board made up of members from the International Helsinki Junior Chamber of Commerce, the Finnish Police Federation and the National Police Board.

Forss (Fobba is his nickname) was investigating crimes involving youths when he realized that many began on an online social network called IRC-Galleria, a very popular social network in Finland, used by 60% of 13 – 17 year olds. In September of 2008 he opened a profile on the site and began his “online patrol”. His page was clearly marked as that of a police officer.

During the first nine months, the profile had around 3,000-5,000 visitors a week. At the busiest week there were over 35,000 visitors. Additionally, 27,901 comments or questions from 8,073 different users appeared at the profile during these nine months. At the profile diary “data bank”, there were 3,039 questions and comments from 1,354 different users within the same time frame. Only registered users were counted. Almost all questions were answered, but sometimes it has been too busy to respond to every inquiry. The pictures and diary can be seen also without page registration. The official police department website has a web page as support for the IRC-Galleria police profile. This page received 46,331 hits in eight and half months.

Like other social media police pioneers, Forss experienced resistance at first and found that he had to prove the worth of his work before supervisors understood its value. “Of course some of my colleagues were doubting that this is really a job that police should do. In the first fifteen months I received 38,000 messages and started several investigations trough IRC-Galleria so nobody can say that it didn’t work. After a couple of months my boss let me focus 100% to my work in social media.” Shortly thereafter, because of a school shooting which had been leaked online, the Ministry of the Interior decided to fund more officers to monitor the Internet and Forss’ group has since grown to three, with still others doing undercover work online. His team works full-time in social media and his colleagues are no longer doubting the value of what his team does. But, like all who work online, he has to stay nimble. His work has turned more and more to Facebook as the popularity of IRC-Galleria is shrinking.

While most Internet sex crimes go unreported, Forss said more are coming to the attention of police because of online tools and adds “It has become clear that visible and approachable police profiles lower the level to contact the police in very unpleasant issues”. Of several success stories, he points to one which he feels would never have been reported if it weren’t for his online work. It involved the rape of a teenage runaway in Helsinki that occurred in 2006 but wasn’t reported until two years later. She contacted Forss through the IRC-Galleria. His investigation lead to the discovery of 17 photos of her on the suspect’s computer. The accused and convicted man was a 51 year old fellow police officer.

Forss doesn’t doubt he’s having an impact with his social media investigations. He stated, “I know I have helped a lot of people in the past four years and that’s why I can say that I have had a bigger impact in my work in social media in four years than in those nine years that I worked as a uniformed police officer. So I wouldn’t underestimate the power of policing in social media!” In fact, he said with cyberbullying issues, it’s sometimes enough to give the bullier, youth or adult, a virtual warning, “usually that stops the bullying because normal people want to avoid police investigation”, he added.

Sergeant Forss has some advice for agencies that want to start a social media program. His advice is that the best officer for the job isn’t necessarily the most technically-savvy. “Everybody can learn the IT-skills but you don’t learn the social and policing skills from books.”

Forss and his team are spreading their expertise well beyond their own department. Their work has inspired other agencies, even outside of Finland, to begin their own social media programs. He’s also developing a wiki-based social media handbook to include policy and procedural guidelines and he’s hopeful that one day soon more police officers will use social media in the course of their investigations rather than it being just a specialty of a few officers.

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