Since the conclusion of The SMILE Conference

For the past couple weeks, I’ve had this blog post only partially written; the rest rolling around in my head without a home. At a very personal level the conference was for me an incredibly life-changing event. We put 60 plus people from all over the western world into one room and shared fabulous ideas and best practices about social media’s role in law enforcement. It’s been over two weeks since the conference concluded and I haven’t written a word about it myself. What the conference really came down to was change. So much, in my view, happened at SMILEcon and as a result of it, I didn’t know where to begin. From where I sit, it seems as though everyone who attended has since gone on to inspire change. Rather than get bogged down in the details about the specific things that have happened, I wanted to keep this post at a higher level about the real theme behind it all. I just didn’t quite know how, until today.

The answer came to me in several tweets from my friend Scott Mills this morning. He’s a Police Constable in Toronto, my relatively new and yet very dear friend, and the veritable “poster cop” for what we’re calling the #bluewaveofchange. He was also one of many outstanding presenters at SMILE. Scott Mills wears his heart on his sleeve the likes of which I’ve never seen, at least not in a cop. He has accomplished more with social media within his police work than what one can easily describe with words, and I’m pretty sure he causes his commanders a bit of sleep deprivation.


  • He gets this stuff. He builds relationships with gang members who friend him on Facebook with full knowledge that he’s a cop. Huh?
  • He feels this stuff. I’ve seen his eyes well up as he says to me, ‘Lauri, nobody listens to the kids.”
  • He lives this stuff. I’ve woken up in hotel rooms at 3:30 in the morning, picked up my phone and guess who’s tweeting at that hour? Scott Mills.

I put a dollar in one of those change machines. Nothing changed. ~George Carlin

He also gets terribly discouraged that not everyone in the law enforcement profession is embracing his vision quite a fast as he thinks they should, and therefore, this is a longer-than-normal introduction to a post – about change.

A simple greeting card

I had sent Scott a card (funny that I used the USPS) to encourage him and this morning he tweeted back the message on its cover to me:

  • Risk more than others think is safe
  • Care more than others think is wise
  • Dream more than others think is practical
  • Expect more than others think is possible

~Cadet Maxim

    I wasn’t telling Scott anything he didn’t already know. These four lines embody what he does, and it hit me, it’s no longer difficult for me to put what he does into words. These are the words that describe him precisely and this is also what SMILEcon captured. IMHO.

    So why am I sharing all this with you?

    In my work with law enforcement I deal mostly with the top cops – the decision makers. But, hardly a week goes by when a PIO or an officer doesn’t call me and ask “What’s the best way I can get my chief to understand and embrace this stuff?” or “My commander thinks that [fill in the blank with the stupid cop trick of the day] will happen if we let them use social media.” Or “The Captain is afraid to open our Facebook page for comments because of what the trolls might say.” And etc…

    It is not the strongest of the species that survive, nor the most intelligent, but the one most responsive to change. ~Author unknown, commonly misattributed to Charles Darwin

    I usually answer by telling them to show the commanders all the stories about the good things that are happening, both in the regular press or in the many blogposts written by those of us who like to write about these things. The good exponentially outweigh the bad. The rewards far outweigh the risks.

    But now I have a new answer. Be careful how you say this to the “big guy”, maybe just give him or her this article. Remind them that they didn’t get to the level they’ve achieved by being afraid to Risk. Care. Dream. Or Expect. Isn’t that what true leaders do every single day?

    We’re calling it the #bluewaveofchange

    I first heard the phrase “bluewaveofchange” during a conversation with Constable Steve Welton of the Hamilton, Ontario Police Service. He is a uniform patrol cop who is taking some risks. They are his words for this movement that seems to be taking place in the world of law enforcement. It’s not about changing how to be a cop. If it were, I wouldn’t be involved. But it is about changing a mindset. It’s about changing how citizens think about police and what and how much they know about police work. “It’s about empowering the community to get involved and it’s about partnerships” says Constable Welton, adding “it’s also about taking a leadership role online and reducing the fear of crime and to never give up on our commitment to the communities we swore to protect. The youth need mentors and guidance.” And, it’s about changing how cops communicate with citizens and it’s about enhancing and supporting the theories which underlie the definition of community policing. The #bluewaveofchange is about the law officers who have the heart to want to take risks, to care and dream and to expect, a LOT.

    Continuity gives us roots; change gives us branches, letting us stretch and grow and reach new heights. ~Pauline R. Kezer

    I started out to write a post to recap The SMILE Conference; how it has effected change and how it will be changed to keep relevant. But I can do that some other time. Suffice it to say that the conference will be whatever it needs to be in order to be appropriate with where we are in time. I need your thoughts on that as I create the next several events.

    When you send a card simply to send a little encouragement to somebody and the message on it comes back to you resonating even stronger than when it left, the words must have been good ones (I didn’t write them). We should all Risk. Care. Dream. Expect. Or else, what might happen instead is summed up in another quote by the great comedian George Carlin, “I put a dollar in one of those change machines. Nothing changed. “

    Publishing this piece is a bit risky too. Please don’t just read it and close the page. Take a risk and let me/us know your thoughts. More conversation is needed. Post your comments, reactions, thoughts here and/or engage us on Twitter. Let’s start surfing the wave.

    Lauri is @lawscomm
    Scott is @GraffitiBMXCop
    Steve is @StephenWelton