Most of our major “news” is derived from our press releases or from our daily blotter, a synopsis of activity from the previous day or weekend.  The releases and the blotter have been sent to various media outlets, previously by fax, but recently by e-mail.

As I mentioned in the Great Expectations piece, at the Boca Raton Police Services Department, we continue to adapt our communication strategy to improve the flow of information and to meet customer demands.  Recently, we decided to make our press releases immediately available to the public, instead of sending copies to the media and posting the releases online at a later time.  We have also increased the speed at which information is released through Nixle and Twitter. 

These changes caught the interest of a local television news outlet and they came to do a story on our use of social media.  I think it was a great piece because it covered some of the tools we are using.  However, the comments about bypassing the media “screening” process were important, because it illustrated what I believe to be a key issue surrounding the use of social media by law enforcement.  Check out the article and video here

What is interesting about the reaction was that we didn’t change the information we released.  We simply changed the timing relative to when the public receives the information.  In this age of transparency, I think increased public access is a good thing. 

However, Mr. Brosemer has a valid point about the other elements of our communication strategy and social media elements.  We are writing our own stories and creating our own news, using social media to reach a wider audience and, in some ways, creating our own spin.  Why?  Because we can and we should. 

Because of economic conditions and the explosive growth of social media, we certainly do not enjoy the media coverage we used to get.  The local outlets do not have the resources they used to have and they are not interested in many of the items we think may be useful to our customers. 

I do not believe our constituents are mindless drones.  They are perfectly capable of drawing their own conclusions about our stories and our spin.  The beauty of our system of government coupled with the application of social media is the two-way nature of the communication.  If someone doesn’t like what we are doing (social media or otherwise), I’ll hear about it.  As we have demonstrated already, we are not afraid to identify shortcomings and make changes.

Mark made an important point at the end of the Channel 5 piece.  We, in no way, are trying to bypass the traditional media.  Our social media elements provide yet another layer and function as a resource to them as well.  I think the media will play a valuable role in this debate.  More is good.  Let me know what you think.