Kicking off The SMILE Conference is an honor, but my real pride rests with the Social Media presence of the Arcadia Police Department.  There is no doubt it is imperative for law enforcement agencies to participate in the world of Social Media, but moreover, if we are to participate – we must engage!  Sitting on the sidelines listening or creating accounts only in name, simply scratches the surface of Social Media.  Our naysayers believe that law enforcement acts like “big brother” and only uses Social Media as the latest intelligence tool to gather information.  True engagement with your community and beyond is what today’s law enforcement needs.  Law enforcement leaders can discuss credibility and transparency, but the true testament to these traits can only be shown through action.

I will give SMILE participants a brief look into our version of an engaged agency.  There are many ways to conduct business, many ways to research and develop strategy, and many ways to then implement your plan.  However, this process can be a difficult one for many reasons: “old school” peers or administrators; lack of source information and working examples; fear of the untested; or simply saying, “let someone else do it first.”  These are just a few of the reasons that Arcadia’s presence began with a rogue police association blog.  Over the course of the following year or two, our administration began to see the value in Social Media as a developing tool for law enforcement.  Today, we continue to build our presence in Social Media by participating with an official agency blog, Twitter and Facebook pages, on-going construction of a YouTube channel, and through networking with other active Social Media participants in many fields, not just limited to law enforcement.  Other tools are also being used to compliment and extend our community engagement, such as Nixle (instant communication), Crime Mapping, and traditional avenues like newsletters and in-person presentations.

Law enforcement tools and technology are ever-changing and evolving.  The differences in training and tools of the trade in my short 25 plus years as a police officer are immense: the revolver and “speedy loaders” have been shelved; every officer in the field now has a portable radio, and some, a department PDA or smartphone; we no longer use a ticker tape style machine to conduct warrant checks; our police units have computers with Internet access; training is mandated and standardized; introduction of community policing theory has led to new practices; crime analysis is now the norm and predictive policing is the future.  The list could go on, but the point is that Social Media is simply a new tool and application that is available for our use.  The difference is that Social Media is not limited to law enforcement, it is now a standard in society, and its use has become an expectation by our community members.  Unlike jury duty – we are not exempt.

By providing some examples of my experiences and the journey of the Arcadia Police Department, I hope to make you better prepared to lead your agency along the road to truly creating an engaged agency in today’s world of Social Media.

Sgt Tom Le Veque of Arcadia PD is the first presenter at The SMILE Conference. Le Veque is a law enforcement social media pioneer. He has successfully developed a social media presence for Arcadia PD and has provided example and encouragement to fellow law officers. Sergeant Tom Le Veque has served with the Arcadia Police Department since 1987, promoting to Sergeant in 1991. Prior to that, Tom was a Police Officer for the City of San Marino Police Department from 1984-1987. Tom has been a driving force behind many of Arcadia’s innovative programs such as Video Parking Enforcement and Neighborhood Speed Watch. Most recently, Sergeant Le Veque has taken the Arcadia Police Department to a new level of community interaction and involvement by developing a web presence with a Department Blog, Facebook, Twitter, and Nixle pages. Arcadia is one of the first agencies in Los Angeles County to truly enter and embrace SMILE. He was recently a panelist at the California Peace Officers’ Association, 2010 Training Symposium.