Why dragging your feet on a Social Media Policy is going to bite you

Recently a local police department was assigned a part of the security detail for a visit from an
important dignitary. It was a prestigious affair for the town, as a dignitary of this magnitude had
never visited this area before. The police force did a fantastic job and things ran like clockwork
throughout the event. Kudos came from the local media outlets on how smoothly the event went and the
chief was quite proud of his department.

The officers involved in the detail were quite proud as well.They took pictures and video of the
dignitary’s motorcade as it went by and posted their evidence on Facebook to share with friends and
family. Unfortunately, as things often do in Social Media, those pictures and videos soon spread beyond
the officers friends and family. Soon came criticism of the officers for taking pictures and video while
they should have been paying attention to the protection the dignitary.

But you cannot hardly blame the officers. It was an exciting event and besides, no one ever told them
they shouldn’t post this kind of thing on Facebook. As a matter of fact, the department had no policy in
place for Social Media at all. This is a major fail for a department at this point in the game. Social
Media is no longer brand spanking new. Social Media is how many people communicate these days and this
department had done a great disservice to its officers and reputation by stalling on getting a policy

This situation was not something that was going to incite the public to riot, but officers have posted
things much more damaging. For example read this recent story regarding an officer’s posting of a
photograph. It is simply not fair to expect officers to know what may and may not be acceptable when a command staff has not even broached the subject because of their own ignorance of the reach and consequences of Social Media.

So, if your department has yet to draft a Social Media policy, you need to get off the stick yesterday,
as you are far, far behind the curve on guiding your officers and protecting your departments standing
in the community.