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The Ingredients of a Solid Social Media Policy for Law Enforcement Agencies

A Social Media policy is essential for any agency because it can be used to encourage online participation among officers and staff as well as lay the foundation for how to get them started. By offering guidelines in the form of a social media policy, officers can know what’s expected and that it’s o.k. to get involved. One Chief of Police in Nebraska has embraced social media tools in his agency and recently created a social media policy for his department. Chief John Stacey says he wants a policy in place so his employees know that he encourages them to interact electronically “for the good of the department and citizens a long as they’re aware that common sense is warranted when online”. So he is taking a proactive approach to what he refers to as “overwhelming changes in communications”.

The Bellevue Police Department is committed to ensuring all portions of the community can contact, interact and consult with their police department. Newspapers, TV and radio do not reach the majority as assumed by many. By recognizing the potential of reaching a larger sector through all forms of media enables a higher degree of transparency and enhances our service capability.
~Chief John Stacey

LAwS Book Review-The Twitter Book

The Twitter Book

The Twitter Book
By Tim O’Reilly and Sarah Milstein
ISBN 10: 0-596-80281-1 | ISBN 13: 9780596802813

The best thing about The Twitter Book is that it’s written for users. People who just want to know how to get started or people who want to gain some serious Twitter skills alike, can get a lot out of this book. It’s just 230 pages, any busy law enforcement officer can make time to read it. The book covers the very basics of how to get started, how to manage your tweets, finding and following other tweeters. It explains the jargon, gives advice on how to write interesting tweets and customizing your twitter account. Newcomers to Twitter will find this book to be immensely helpful, but even Twitter veterans could learn a great deal. It’s short and packed full of information like any good tweet should be. Cops who want to learn how to become Twitter power users in just a couple hours, and then get back to the business of being a cop, should read The Twitter book. It’s the only book they’ll need to read.

Community Crime Fighters Turn to Facebook

As originally published on the Facebook Blog on August 4th, 2009.

Constable Scott Mills has served as a police officer with the Toronto Police Service in Canada since 2002. His current role is Community Youth Officer for the Toronto Crime Stoppers program, where he works to build healthy relationships between young people, community members and the police department. We’ve asked Scott to share his experiences using Facebook to fight crime by connecting with the community.

There’s no doubt that Facebook has revolutionized the act of sharing and communicating with friends. Often overlooked, however, is the impact these tools can have on public safety. Because community engagement is critical to effective law enforcement, police officers must be where the people are, and these days, the people are on Facebook.

For the last two years, I have used my Facebook account, as well as Facebook groups, events and Pages, to inform Toronto residents about crimes in their area and encourage them to provide anonymous tips. Messages can be broadcast quickly and easily to wide audiences with immediate feedback. Outreach through Facebook has helped Toronto Crime Stoppers sniff out threats against local schools, bring much needed help to people at risk of committing suicide, warn the public about criminals on the loose and even locate missing persons.
In addition to enabling us to gather tips more efficiently and effectively, Facebook also has helped us build a stronger, more meaningful connection with the community we serve. My department runs programs aimed at keeping kids off the street and away from trouble. These programs include presentations at local schools, Bicycle Moto-Cross (BMX) camps, legal graffiti competitions and dance contests. Through photos, videos, and links, Facebook has allowed us to promote these programs to those who need them most and hopefully leading to fewer people getting involved with crime because of boredom or lack of options.

I’m proud of the work we’ve done and passionate about the potential for tools like Facebook to aid law enforcement. Policymakers and police officers from around the world still have a lot to learn about how to use social media to build connections to enlist the public in preventing and solving crimes, but police departments in cities around the world are starting to take notice. Last fall, at a conference hosted by the International Criminal Police Organization (INTERPOL) in Johannesburg, South Africa, the group’s Secretary General Ronald K. Noble said:

People routinely use the Internet to find former classmates or individuals with similar interests…. there is no reason why law enforcement should not use this same resource to find fugitives or encourage members of the public to use social networking sites to report sightings of criminals.

Recently, police departments — in municipalities as large as Vancouver, British Columbia in Canada and as small as Brunswick, Maine in the U.S. — have created presences on Facebook to communicate more efficiently with the public. I’m happy to see this trend develop across Canada and around the world, including in the U.S. where the municipality of Boston is now using social media to track down stolen bikes. We’ll continue to work hard to make sure law enforcement is taking full advantage of today’s communication tools. All of us can do our part by using the Internet not just to keep up with friends but also to help keep our communities safe.

Welcome to ConnectedCOPS.net

This blog will carry articles about law enforcement and social media (SM), how cops use SM, how criminals use SM an how the two intersect. We will bring you content about social media usefullness, success stories, SM innovation in law enforcement, SM policy, how specific LE specialty areas are using SM an etc.

We will not waste your time. We will only post very relevent stories about LE pioneers in the field of Social Media and hopefully help organizations learn how to integrate SM into their agencies. We will also review books, but only those that cops would benefit from reading; as well as SM tools that law enforcement personnel could use to enhance their work. You will not see any item on this blog, even a link on the blogroll, unless LAwS feels it is useful to Law Enforcement. Count on LAwS to separate the wheat from the chaff.

Lauri Stevens will oversee all content on this blog. However, other guest LE experts to contribute to this blog and please contact Lauri if you are a professional in the field of law enforcement and would like to suggest a topic and/or write an article for connectedcops.net.

If you would like your blog added to our blogroll, please email Lauri directly at lauri@lawscommunications.com

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