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Calgary Police Service to Host Live Twitter Chat

Calgarians Encouraged to Particpate!

Are you on Facebook? What about Twitter? Do you blog?

The Calgary Police Service wants to know how you like to communicate online. We want to find out how we can use digital tools and social media to better serve you! On

Tuesday, Aug. 30, 2011, we’re hosting a live chat on Twitter to talk about how the Calgary Police Service can best use digital technology to communicate and provide services to you.

We’ll be hosting the live chat between 11:30 a.m. and 1:00 p.m. on Twitter. Follow the hashtag #TellCPS and share your thoughts, ideas and opinions on this topic – every idea is welcome. If you’re not on Twitter, you can use TweetChat to observe the discussion.

Don’t miss your chance to be a part of developing the Calgary Police Service’s online presence.

For you Facebook fans, stay tuned, we’re gearing up for a live chat there soon!

TweetChat hashtag: #TellCPS Twitter: @calgarypolice Facebook: www.facebook.com/calgarypolice

For more information contact: Michelle Dassinger Public Affairs/Media Relations Unit 403-206-7979 Tweet Questions to #TellCPS

Post Riot Thoughts…

It is now two weeks since the riots. On the day that significant disorder broke out in Wolverhampton, I was out on the ground, witnessing at first hand the damage being caused, the violence being used towards officers and the looting of the shops that were deliberately targeted for the goods that were on display. We were able to bring the situation under control due to some heroic actions from our officers, relatively quickly, and with thankfully little injury to the public or police. As is always the way in such events, there were moments of extreme frustration, as we had to move officers to protect and contain locations, that we couldn’t protect everything, and extreme satisfaction, as we started to lock the offenders up and force the rioters out of the city.

Throughout the course of the day I witnessed some acts of real bravery from officers. As always I was very proud to be part of the Police force that stood in front on the offenders, took the missiles off them, stopped them inflicting the type of damage that they clearly had in mind, and then set about locking them up.

At one stage I was with a group of Special Constables and PCSOs, they were stood in a line in front of the new glass bus station in Wolverhampton, with the rioters coming towards them. They are not public order trained, but they wanted to be out, protecting the community they work in. We replaced them with trained officers in protective kit as soon as we could, but they stood, without question, in the line of fire whilst we did it.

Throughout the day I was using social media and Twitter in particular to update the people of Wolverhampton about what was going on. That was in fact what this blog was going to be about but I will cover that in a later post. Suffice to say that twitter and the social media users of Wolverhampton were invaluable throughout. Rumours were quashed, facts were distributed, and people slept better once they were reassured that it was under control.

The day after the riots, the people of Wolverhampton turned out to clean their own city centre up. They were brilliant and the pride they showed in the area put the rioters to shame. I went out and spoke to the staff in the shops that had been damaged and members of the public. The overwhelming message was that they were determined to press on and not be beaten by the criminals involved in the disorder. Wolverhampton is full of great people, and we saw the best of them the day after we had seen the worst.

In the time since the disorder, it is fair to say that we have been overwhelmed by the messages of support we have had from the public. We have had cards, cakes and chocolate delivered to the police station. I have had countless officers relaying stories to me of being stopped while they are on patrol and thanked by people. We are very grateful for the support we have received from ordinary people; genuine thanks for that.

The investigation has been in full flow since the disorder, and we have seen large numbers arrested and prosecuted. I am pleased that we have been able to do this quickly, as it sends a clear message to those involved; if you are involved in this type of offence, we will come for you, and won’t stop until we have you.

Mark Payne

Mark Payne is a Superintendent with the West Midlands Police. He is based at Wolverhampton, responsible for managing response to crime and operations in the city.

A Tweet by any other name….

What exactly is in a name? Well, if you’re a member of the Toronto Police Service’s Corporate Communications unit, this became one of the most hotly contested issues of our entire social media strategy.

One of the more important aspects of our social media strategy was the inclusion of a strong branding component.

Until now, a few officers have driven the Service’s presence on social media. They have had such positive experiences working with various social media tools that the Toronto Police Service is widely seen as a leader in the use of social media among our law enforcement colleagues.

Given these successes, it was not surprising other areas of the Service had been starting to engage in social media use for a variety of reasons. Fortunately, getting people interested in using social media has never been one of our issues.

However, of all the accounts that have been set up, no one ‘looks’ the same. There has been no real consistency to our profiles; nothing that consistently, clearly indicated we were all representatives of the Toronto Police Service.

As a result, with the guidance of @LawsComm, we included an overall branding strategy for the Toronto Police Service-related accounts into our social media strategy. This branding included a creative element designed entirely by Toronto Police Service members led by our Webmaster, Pedja Ljubomirovic.

Speaking of what’s in a name…don’t ever be fooled by someone’s official job title…who knew that staff working in places such as Video Services, Corporate Planning, and Training & Education were really secret-squirrel web designers!?!?!

In addition to the creative element, we wanted each person to follow a naming convention when they created their Twitter profiles. But what should that naming convention be?

And that’s where it got interesting.

An obvious first choice was the person’s rank and name. Or, “TPS and name” for those of us who are civilians with the service and, technically, don’t have a rank. But does rank really mean anything to those not part of the law enforcement community? If you’re not part of this culture, do you really know the difference between a Sergeant and a Staff Inspector? Do you know what the difference is between a Corporal and a Constable? More importantly, do you really care? Probably not, and since the community is our primary audience…we scrapped the idea of including rank.

But, obviously, we were going to stick with “TPS and name”. But what would we do for same names….in an organization of 8,000+ we were more than likely going to end up with more than one Smith or Robertson or Wong? So, we’ll include first names and last names. But the Toronto Police Service is a very culturally diverse service and, as we enter the world of 140 characters or less, perhaps having a naming convention that could effectively take up a third of our allotted characters was a naming convention that needed to be reconsidered.

So, back to the drawing board we went.

In an effort to have a consistent naming convention – which if you’ll remember was the point of our branding strategy to begin with – someone suggested using “TPS and badge number”.

WHAT?!?! And get rid of my precious @mrsmeaghangray?? Do I really have to change to something as impersonal as TPS88631?? How cold. How insincere. How….do I hear myself? Long been known as one of the more cautious proponents of the Service’s social media strategy, I couldn’t believe what I was now advocating for?! Even though I am still a newbie when it comes to social media, I do know that in this techie world personal relationships still matter. And what could be more impersonal than knowing someone by their employee number?

So, you guessed it, back to the drawing board we went.

And then it came to me. What if we let our users create their own names? All of our sites would have the same creative features, the same biographical information, and the same directive to include a real first name and last name anyway, so why don’t we allow them to create their own unique handle?

These people are allowed to carry guns for goodness sake; surely we could expect them to create a professional user name? Now before you think, ‘gee, that’s brave of you’, did I mention that all user names would have to be registered with Corporate Communications anyway? So even if someone tried to be less than professional…they wouldn’t get very far.

Well, there are those who are skeptical of this plan. Some days, even I’m skeptical of our plan but I think we’ve made a wise decision and, so far, our people are proving me right. We’ve had @tpspix, for our Service Photographer, we’ve had @tps911supvr for one of our 9-1-1 call taker supervisors and, my personal favourite, we have @forensicsfella for a member of our Forensics Identification Services.

Has anyone proven me wrong? Perhaps. But, we’re on it. Instead, I’d like to think that we’ve taken a very corporately driven social media strategy with a very corporately driven creative representation and infused a little personal creativity that allows our members to connect with the community they’re trying to reach.

Until next time,

Not @tps88631, but proudly @mrsmeaghangray

Meaghan Gray

Meaghan Gray

Meaghan played a leading role on the Service’s Social Media Working Group. With her colleagues, the Toronto Police Service developed a corporate social media strategy which will expand the way the Service uses these platforms to support communications and community engagement. The strategy involved almost every area of the Service and resulted in policy, guidelines, and training in the use of social media.

Meaghan received her Bachelor of Arts in Political Studies from Queen’s University and her Corporate Communications Certificate from George Brown College.

She can be reached at meaghan.gray@torontopolice.on.ca or @mrsmeaghangray on Twitter.

Social Media Quick Tip: Give Your Facebook Page a Takedown Policy

Outline the criteria for which a post would be removed from your department’s page

A Facebook takedown policy helps give guidance to citizens as to what’s appropriate to post but it also provides guidelines to an agency for removing something.

Law enforcement agencies on Facebook are sometimes faced with inappropriate content posted by citizens on their pages. Although the problem hasn’t proved to be as big an issue as some agencies initially feared, it does happen. Some agencies deal with this by editing their settings so citizens can’t post on their pages. Others, who want to be more interactive and encourage dialog with the people they serve, are deleting offensive posts instead.

How then do you decide which posts should be removed? A few agencies are handling it with a Facebook takedown policy posted directly on their Facebook pages outlining the criteria for which a post would be removed.

To see a Facebook Takedown Policy installed on a police department page, check out the Long Beach (Calif.) PD Facebook page or that of the Toronto Police. I have a takedown policy template–free to use as you like–posted on ConnectedCOPS.net. Both the Long Beach and Toronto policies are based on this template.

Once you remove something, it’s a good idea to keep it along with a notation as to why it was removed, in the event someone objects. A takedown policy helps give guidance to citizens as to what’s appropriate to post but it also provides guidelines to an agency for removing something. Additionally, in the event you’re ever challenged legally, having a policy shows that your agency acts purposefully, consistently and fairly.

To install such a tab, you’ll have to learn about iFrames. It’s not terribly technical. To get started, click here.

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

Social Media Handbook for Police: Part 13

Welcome to the the next instalment in my series of social media tips. These are aimed primarily at a police audience, but hopefully applicable to a wider group of people too, especially those in the public sector. This series of posts will aim to identify some good practice and useful hints and tips for police officers and staff to consider when using social media.

Part 13: Policing Disasters

Parts 10, 11 and 12 of the handbook tackled using social media in public order and major investigations. As I said there, I hear a lot of scepticism about whether it is any use operationally – so called ‘real policing’.


No, this is not a list of policing disasters, but rather the way in which police forces can proactively use social media to improve how disasters such as floods and other natural or man-made events are handled.

You might assume that the first thing to stop in any major disaster would be the communications network. This may well have been the case in the past, but a cellular communications netwrok is surprisingly resilient, and of course the internet was built to route around any problem areas or blackspots. Mobile phones contained their own power supply, and most will continue trying to connect to the network after a user has sent a text or other update. It therefore makes sense for organisations that may have to respond to large scale disasters to consider how best to harness the power of social media in their response.

Social media is a great way to keep information flowing during and after a disaster. Increasingly the public don’t just seek information online, but create it and provide mutual support. This data is real time intelligence which will provide myriad ‘eyes on the ground’ and give multiple points for important public safety announcements to be passed on.

Brian Humphrey from Los Angeles Fire DEpartment has been quoted as saying that “every citizen is a sensor”. What the public do is throw that information out into the void of Twitter or Facebook, and agencies need to consider in advance how to respond to, filter, verify, and make use of all the data. Obviously it should not be the only source of intelligence, but as Martin Brunt from Sky News said at the ACPO conference in July 2011 “for the first hour of major story we relied entirely on Tweets from the public to report. These proved very reliable when eventually confirmed.”

Tips to get started

  • Start early – it is much easier to get a message out if people already follow you and trust you.
  • Figure out your trusted sources early – similarly if you have existing social media accounts you know you can trust, it will make it easier to sift intelligence from rumour.
  • Know how information can be passed to those on the ground – this requires a mechanism to filter and assess what may be thousands of Tweets and updates, and the best way to pass useful information to people on the ground.
  • Know how social media platforms can complement your traditional media, and consider moving your prime effort to social media in the early stages of an incident
  • Allow updates from the field – as I keep saying, social media is a two-way process. Your officers and staff need to know how to use social media, and have appropriate permission and technology to do so before disaster strikes.
  • So ask yourself – if it happened tomorrow, how ready is your organisation?

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