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Social Media Quick Tip: Google+, Plus What?

Before you create a Google+ account for your agency, make sure you know what you're going to do with it.

In June, Google launched its own social network called Google+. The current estimated of number of users of G+ are as high at 40 million compared to nearly 800 million for Facebook. Although neither company claims to be competing against the other, it’s clear to many social media observers that stakes are high as the one that comes out on top stands to wield considerable control over the future of the Web.

Google just launched Google+ for companies and organizations this week. At what point should law enforcement agencies incorporate Google+ into their social media programs? I was pretty excited to set up my own company page, but was somewhat disappointed once I had it created. Company pages seem to be much the same as individual pages. I was expecting many more marketing features.

I’ve long maintained that creating any social media profile should be preceded by proactive strategy development that’s in alignment with agency communication goals. The great majority of law enforcement agencies have Facebook, Twitter, even YouTube accounts without having first given any thought to what they’re going to do with them. Now that Google+ is available to your agency, first ask yourself if it makes sense for you to be there. Are any of your audiences there? Do you have a strategic reason—a business case—for justifying the page?

At a minimum, it would be a good idea to create a page to “hold” your agency name, and by all means, monitor to see if anyone is impersonating your agency (this goes for all social networks). Digital impersonators might be a big problem on Google+ as verification procedures don’t seem to have been established.

If you’re anxious to get started, once you have a personal profile you can create a page at https://plus.google.com/pages/create.

We will continue to update you on Google+ pages and will be providing more Social Media Quick Tips on how to leverage Google+ pages for your agency in the coming weeks.

DHS Networking Site and Working Group Fill Unique Roles

Law enforcement now has plenty of resources for communicating with the public online; the past few years have seen an explosion in the use Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, and others.  But where do I go to communicate with others in my field or find advice when an issue arises?

Lately, I’ve been using a great tool called the First Responder Communities of Practice, and it is increasingly the place I turn for networking and sharing information with others in the field.  After joining the site, located at http://Communities.FirstResponder.gov, members have unprecedented access to practitioners across the country representing nearly every expertise imaginable.   I’ve been impressed with how easy it is to locate and ask questions of other public information officers and first responders whose years of experience well surpass mine.

Site members use discussion boards, shared document repositories, wikis, and other tools to collaborate on projects and share information with one another.  The site was created by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Science & Technology (S&T) Directorate to foster information sharing across all homeland security related fields.  I’d encourage anyone who is interested to sign up for an account and begin exploring what’s available.  It’s also easy to share your own resources and get your name out in front of a nation-wide audience.

You will quickly notice the unique chance for cross-disciplinary information sharing, meaning that you can discuss common issues with groups such as the fire service or non-profit organizations.  As the world becomes more interconnected and strained budgets force further coordination of operations and resources, I think the site is an impressive place to connect on these efforts.  It’s hard to imagine the wealth of knowledge and potential for collaboration opportunities on another site. And the best part, especially in today’s budgetary environment, is its free!

In addition to the Communities of Practice site, I am also participating in the DHS S&T led Virtual Social Media Working Group (VSMWG).  It has been fascinating to explore the potential of social media tools and to hear from other practitioners across the country regarding the integration of these technologies into their agencies.  Our discussions so far have reinforced the fact that social media for law enforcement is all about engaging the community, humanizing the agency, and keeping citizens informed at all times.  What better way is there to achieve these goals than for agencies to come together across geographic region and public safety discipline to share best practices?

Soon, the working group will release to the public a Social Media Guidance document containing a breakdown of all the issues to consider when implementing social media in a public safety organization.  It is a great resource for users of any skill level who want to get an overview of the benefits and strategies for social media in police work.  As the world embraces social media and the technology is integrated further into the lives of our community, I feel confident that the members of this working group will keep public safety at the forefront of these changes.

Both of these initiatives have me more excited than ever about how these tools will shape the way we work online, engage our community and most importantly, keep them safe!

To join DHS S&T First Responder Communities of Practice and learn more about the Virtual Social Media Working Group, visit http://Communities.FirstResponder.gov

Stephanie Slater

Stephanie Slater became the Boynton Beach Police Department’s Public Information Officer in April 2007, following seven years as a newspaper reporter. Slater, a New York native, is a graduate of the S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications at Syracuse University, where she majored in print journalism.  Slater is the spokeswoman for the Boynton Beach Police Department, serving as the liaison between the officers, the media and the public. She writes the department’s press releases, provides television news interviews, maintains the department’s Web sites (bbpd.org, Facebook, Twitter, YouTube) and oversees the department’s Officer of the Month program. Slater is a member of the National Public Information Officers Association and an executive board member with the Florida Law Enforcement Public Information Officers Association. Follow the Boynton Beach Police on Facebook (www.facebook.com/boyntonbeachpolice) and Twitter (@bbpd).


Social Media Quick Tip: 12 Ways to Increase Your Facebook Fan Base

The No. 1 rule in all social media is to create compelling content. Beyond that, there are a number of additional ways to get people to hit the like button for your Facebook page. Here are a dozen. Tell us what works for you.

1. Interact with your fans: Respond to comments. Post questions, contests, humor. Each time someone comments on one of your posts, or hits the “like” button, their friends become aware of your page.

2. Tell them who you are: A big mistake made by many, if not most, law enforcement agencies is not letting fans know who the people behind the posts are. I like to recommend agencies have their members post as themselves with their police photo included. Also, consider adding an addition tab letting people know who runs your page.

3. Create a welcome page: A welcome page takes people who haven’t liked your page yet to a custom welcome page rather than to your wall. While you’re at it, put a welcome video in there from your Chief. Creating a welcome page requires adding a custom tab.

4. Use widgets on your website: There are many free plugins you can use on your website to make it easy for people to like your page. Some will display your current stream. Others will show a selection of your fans, or simply just provide a button to like your page from your website.

5. Status tagging: By using the @ symbol in your updates, followed by a person or business name, you’re sending that post to the page of the person or business. As law enforcement agencies, be careful about how you use this, but it can be very effective at getting more eyeballs to your page.

6. Post pictures: Especially pictures of your K-9s, action shots, helicopters, etc. Fans love to see images of cops doing what they do.

7. Use Facebook ads: Running an ad on Facebook is super easy and inexpensive. You can specify a cap on what you spend down to very low amounts. Facebook allows you to zero in on any demographic via their interests, where they live, age, etc.

8. Maintain consistency: Create a posting schedule to assist you in getting something posted regularly. The main thing is to post on a regular basis to keep reminding people that you’re there and you’re paying attention to your page.

9. E-mail signature: Add your Facebook address (assuming you’ve set a custom name) to the e-mail signature for every member of your department. In fact, all your social media profiles should consistently be distributed this way.

10. Print collateral: Put your Facebook URL, and all your other department social media addresses on every piece of print media you create including brochures, business cards, letterhead, posters and newsletters.

11. Create a poll: Find a free application to post polls for your fans to participate with. People love to vote and see how others voted on controversial or otherwise interesting topics.

12. Link to Twitter: I never suggest sending tweets to Facebook, but sending Facebook posts to your Twitter stream is fine, and it’s an effective way to get Twitter followers to join you on another platform.

What’s worked for your agency? Please add your tip in the comments section so we can all learn from your success.

This Social Media Quicktip was previously published on LawOfficer.com.

The SMILE Conference Community Loses a Friend


The SMILE Conference community has suffered a devastating loss with the passing of Peter Berghammer. Peter passed away unexpectedly Saturday evening, October 1st. Peter has been a supporter of SMILE since its inception in April of 2010. Peter was a great man; he was kind and brilliant, and he sincerely cared about law enforcement and the safety of law officers. His distinguished career is detailed below.

Peter gave his final presentation at The SMILE Conference in Dallas on September 29th, entitled “Social Media: Public Safety, Censorship and Dissent | Analysis of Tools and Trends in the Control of Social Media Dominance”. He had been a highly regarded speaker at all four SMILE Conferences to date; over the heads of some in attendance while others were in awe of his knowledge.

His presentation in Chicago – “How Do I Surveil Thee? – Let Me Count the Ways” is here. His presentation in Santa Monica – “Can the Social Media Genie be Put Back in the Bottle? The double edged sword facing law enforcement” is the most watched SMILE Conference video and is available here.

Peter leaves behind his wife Susan and their 20-month-old daughter, Abrielle.


The text below is the content from a press release issued by Public Communications Worldwide:

Garden Grove, CA October 5, 2011

– It is with a deep sense of sadness and loss that Public Communications/Worldwide (PC/W), a long-time Southern California independent public relations and marketing communications firm, announces the passing of Senior Strategist Peter Berghammer. Fifty-one year-old Berghammer died unexpectedly Saturday evening, October 1 from heart failure. Peter was an innovator and serial entrepreneur who worked on technology, aerospace and public-safety accounts for PC/W.

Though best known for his marketing acumen, Peter possessed a thorough understanding and appreciation for strategic alliances, acquisitions, and mergers. Through his leadership, The Copernio Holding Company, which he founded in 2001 and in which he served as Chief Executive Officer, quickly grew from an IT solutions provider to an organization with divisions handling consulting, research, warehousing, and logistics. Under his guidance, Copernio expanded from a single location to an international corporation with warehouses and offices in over 18 countries.

In 2003, he founded Future Formats, an offshoot of the research arm of Copernio, dedicated to the consumer electronics industry and photonics research.

No matter the endeavor, Peter’s goal always remained the same: to assist clients in achieving their business objectives through the intelligent and efficient use of information technology along with a strong infrastructure.

Immediately prior to founding Copernio, Peter served as Vice President of Sales and Marketing for the on-line marketplace startup Avolo. With an aggressive marketing and product development strategy, he took the company to a leadership position in e-commerce trade.

Prior to that, Peter served as Director of Worldwide Communications for aerospace, defense, and industrial fastening systems manufacturer Fairchild Fasteners (now part of Alcoa). He was a pioneer in the mid-1990s in the integration of CAD/CAM with solid modeling, and the integration of solid models with the internet – effectively building a proof of concept platform, which allowed for models to be designed and deployed in one location and manufactured in locations thousands of miles away.

Later, as an executive at EDS, Peter oversaw Fairchild’s web and network implementation strategy and deployment. He was responsible for developing Fairchild’s database-driven architecture, and laid the foundation for later integration of MRP, ERP, and ERP2 systems with the internet, joining facilities in over 20 countries.

Peter began his career in the late 1970’s with aerospace fastening company Rosan of Newport Beach, CA. Rosan was later acquired by Rexnord, then by Banner Aerospace, and eventually by Fairchild.

Peter stood out for his forward thinking and strong technical grasp of many issues in the industries with which he was involved. As such, he was active in a number of industry groups. These included being a life member of the American Institute of Aviation and Aerospace (AIAA), and a 20-year member of the Society of Aerospace and Automotive Engineers (SAE) and the Optical Society of America. He also belonged to The Center for Intelligence Studies, International Association for Cryptologic Research, and The SIIA: Software and Information Industries Association, in which he was an active participant on the Intellectual Property Sub-Committee, Search Engine watch group, and the Software as Service Sub-Committee.

Peter’s military associations included the U.S. Naval Institute and The Navy League, The National Defense Industrial Association (NDIA), and The Air Force Association. He is a life member of all of the aforementioned groups. He also belonged to the AFIO (Association of Former Intelligence Officers), NMIA (National Military Intelligence Association), IACR (International Association for Cryptologic Research), and MICA (Military Intelligence Corps Association).

Peter served his country with quiet effectiveness and always understood the importance of speaking truth to power. He brought this determination – to effectively make a difference and treat all with decency – to all of his relationships in the corporate world.

Among his educational credentials are the University of San Diego, the Goethe Institute, Cal Tech Engineering Management, and Stanford Law Intellectual Property and e-business. In 2005-2006, he was named a non-residential Fellow at Stanford Law: Center for Internet and Society researching security and crypotologic systems.

Peter was a well known speaker dealing with topics from consumer electronics to Intellectual Property, legislation, law through aerospace security, and integrated military logistics systems. He spoke on behalf of numerous organizations and at numerous international tradeshows.

As a husband and most recently, as a father, Peter found his happiest calling – and one to which he was wholly dedicated – as his family provided a newfound joy in which all his friends delighted and celebrated.

He is survived by his wife Susan van Barneveld (president of PC/W) and 20-month-old daughter Abrielle Ghislaine. The family lives in Huntington Beach, CA.

Daughter Abrielle was the light of Peter’s life. Her future education meant a great deal to him. In lieu of flowers, the family asks that contributions be made to an education fund for her at 19744 Beach Blvd., Suite 398, Huntington Beach, CA 92648.

A memorial service for Peter will be held on October 17 at 11:00 a.m. at Saint Mary’s by the Sea Catholic Church in Huntington Beach, CA.

— 30 —

Public Communications Worldwide
Susan van Barneveld/Nicole Fait
(714) 891-3660,

All products/services and trademarks mentioned in this release are the properties of their respective companies.
© 2011 Public Communications/Worldwide (PC/W). All rights reserved.

National Public Safety Broadband Debate: What Our Future Could Hold

Mike Bostic

I just came back from The SMILE Conference in Dallas where I spoke on the debate surrounding the creation of a nationwide high-speed public safety network. For those who were unable to attend the conference, here’s my take on what the future could hold for public safety.

When it comes to public safety technology, one factor we can be assured of is that change is certain. Moore’s law says that technology grows exponentially – and it’s expected to continue to do so until 2015 or 2020 at the earliest. At the same time, P25 trunked implementations and LTE trials mean that the technology you use right now will need to be replaced. While we might like to hang on to those analog radio handsets because they’re familiar, public safety has no choice but to keep up with the times.

With technology blazing ahead, first responders see the rapid evolution of new electronic devices in their everyday lives – and want the same in the field. Businesses increasingly find that customers are demanding product evolution instead of end-of-life replacements. This requires multi-vendor interoperability, which means essentially ensuring that equipment from various vendors can work together seamlessly. To do this, open interfaces are required. This multi-vendor interoperability is key to a cost-effective solution for public safety because increased competition between product companies will result in a lower price for the customer – something that’s important for every agency working under today’s tight budget constraints.

Recent discussions in Congress have focused on whether public safety should be given the D Block or whether that spectrum should be auctioned off to commercial users who in turn let public safety agencies use it during times of crisis. Both the House and Senate have proposed their own versions on how to build such a network. While the frameworks differ significantly, sustained pressure on lawmakers to move forward on public safety can hopefully resolve the current stalemate.

Some could argue that the perceived need for a dedicated public safety wireless network is overblown. They could point to the fact that response activities were largely unaffected during both Hurricane Irene and last month’s earthquake in Virginia. But the fact that communications towers handled the influx of cellular calls without major outages doesn’t mean that everything’s fine. If anything, there is acute strain on communications systems, as underscored by the fact that FEMA had to urge people to stay off the phone because networks wouldn’t be able to handle the rush of calls to family and friends, as well as emergency response communications.

So what could the future hold for public safety? I urge you to think big. Without question, the tools you use to communicate with your family and friends – from tablets to smartphones – must be made available to law enforcement so officers can download data, check updates and ID suspects. But beyond that, the ability to talk seamlessly to other public safety personnel in real time is more than just communication. It could save lives.

To view the full presentation:

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