The Social Media Beat

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The Social Media Beat

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Transparency Part II: Why We Can't Always Be Transparent. Thanks to Social Networking, We Can, and People Get It!

By Lynn Hightower

Lynn Hightower

Lynn is the Communications Director and Public Information Officer for the Boise, Idaho, Police Department. Follow Lynn on Twitter @BoisePD.

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I’m going to start with something that you may have read recently: “Transparency does not involve divulging privileged information. Instead, being transparent means empowering citizens with information so they can understand, appreciate, and trust their police agency and staff to do the right thing for all citizens in their community.” If that sounds familiar, it’s because our resident “chief” blogger, Chief Billy Grogan of Dunwoody, Georgia wrote it in his blog post published last week. The chief, as usual, had a very insightful message about the evolution of the law enforcement profession from an inward to an external focus on public communication, cooperation, and building partnerships to enhance public safety and support police operations. The chief went on to explain how the evolution of social networking now allows police agencies to communicate with the communities and citizens they serve as never before. He’s right on, and how to do that more effectively ...

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Monday, July 23, 2012

Using Social Media to Engage Officers' Families and Fellow Officers

By Dionne Waugh

Dionne Waugh

Dionne Waugh is the Digital Communications Manager for the Jefferson County Sheriff's Office in Colorado. Follow Dionne on Twitter @JeffCoSheriffCo.

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One of the neatest – and most surprising – things to come from the Richmond Police Department's use social media is the boost in employee morale and camaraderie as well as the increased engagement with officers' families. To explain, I think most agencies start using social media to better communication and inform their community. Well, a key part of that improved communication and community are your officers and their families. Too often the community only hears about police officers when something bad happens. The same is probably true for most family members. They may only hear about the weird, the crazy, or the sad things that happen on the officer's shift. On Facebook and Twitter, they get the chance to read about their loved ones in a variety of positive ways (like photos and video) that also offer people a chance to publicly brag or thank the officer for their good service. This isn't to say that officers don't share the good stories, but officers may be too humble to talk about some ...

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Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Transparency: Law Enforcement's Best Friend

By Billy Grogan

Billy Grogan

Billy Grogan is the Chief of Police for the Dunwoody Police Department in Georgia. Follow Chief Grogan on Twitter @ChiefGrogan.

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In years past, many police departments operated in almost complete secrecy. The community knew very little about what the department was doing except in the most extreme cases involving terrible tragedies. The culture of law enforcement perpetuated this belief that citizens were better off, and so were police departments, if citizens were kept in the dark. As times changed and the thought process of law enforcement leaders evolved, we began to see the value of community involvement and partnership. The birth of community oriented policing and all of the offshoots of that opened up communication with citizens like never before. Law enforcement held community meetings to talk about crime, disseminated information via e-mail lists, and was more open to sharing information than ever before. Today, thanks to social media, information sharing and transparency have become synonymous. This transparency is truly law enforcement's best friend. Who can argue with the need for transparency? The work of law enforcement ...

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Thursday, July 12, 2012

Is There an ROI for Law Enforcement and Social Media?

By Mark Economou

Mark Economou

Mark is the Public Information Officer for the Boca Raton Police Department in Boca Raton, Florida. Follow Mark on Twitter @BocaPolice.

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Most of us that deal with the media and public in law enforcement are called public information officers. But let's face it; we are media relations specialists, crisis communications experts, marketing managers, and advertising executives. We just do it for a police department in the public sector. But our work in today's electronic age is that of someone who works for a large company handling all of the above mentioned jobs. The only difference is the ROI, return on investment. In the private sector all companies gauge their communications, media, and advertising campaigns on ROI. Does the latest advertising campaign or social media campaign give us the return we are investing in it? As I present at conferences to fellow PIOs and others in law enforcement I get that question a lot. How do you measure your return on investment? My answer to them is always the same. I believe our return on investment is the residents in our community and us keeping them informed. It keeps coming back to the same starti ...

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Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Wiki-PD-a: Police Departments and the 5th Most Popular Site on the Web

By Tracy Phillips

Tracy Phillips

Tracy, an IACP Senior Project Specialist, is responsible for managing the day-to-day operations of IACP's recruitment initiative, Discover Policing.

Want to hear more from Tracy Phillips? Follow her and the Discover Policing team on Twitter, Facebook, and on the Inside Discover Policing blog.

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You can't control everything that is written on the Web about your department, but you can influence one very important source: Wikipedia. Wikipedia is a free Internet encyclopedia with millions of articles on almost any topic written and maintained by, well, anyone. For many departments, particularly larger ones, their Wikipedia entry is among the top Google search results after the agency’s official Web site and Facebook page. Is there an entry for your department? Have you ever thought to look? If your agency has an entry, what does it say, and is it accurate? Who created it, and what were their motives? So what, you say, who cares? We have a Web site, after all, and it's authoritative and top notch. Sure, people will go there eventually, but often folks head to Wikipedia first to get an overview on a topic before delving deeper. Wading through an agency’s Web site navigation to find information can be tedious; Wikipedia is an easy and convenient resource. A quick review of police ...

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Thursday, July 05, 2012

Building Your Audience

By Tim Burrows

Tim Burrows

Tim Burrows is a recently retired sergeant with 25 years of law enforcement experience.

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Have you ever been stuck for a topic to write about? Last week I was trying to come up with a blog post for you and I couldn't decide on the topic. There were several I was considering and every time I got started there was an interruption. First, a tweet came in telling me that for the low price of $49 I could buy twenty five thousand followers, guaranteed. Wow! Fifty bucks and I could have 25K new followers. Second, I was sent a message on Facebook showing how by using simple tricks, (tricks, not tactics), I could increase likes for my page. Neat, trick people into liking me. Finally, I was privy to a conversation that discussed using slick gimmicks to increase your social voice and presence. Awesome! It dawned on me that for many people the best way to increase your social presence is through tricks, gimmicks, and purchasing people. Wow... there was the topic I was looking for. How not to be completely disgusting in your use of social media. But I figure, "Building an audience" was a better title. ...

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Tuesday, July 03, 2012

Keeping It Fresh

By Guest Blogger

Guest Blogger

The Social Media Beat periodically features guest bloggers who share their perspective on the topic of social media and law enforcement.

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Today's guest blog post comes from Corinne Geller, public relations director with the Virginia State Police. A former TV news reporter, she joined the state police in 1999 as a field PIO and now oversees statewide media and public relations. She and her team have been experimenting with social media since 2010. Corinne can be reached at or 804-674-2789. With the attention span of today's public being about as long as a gnat, constantly coming up with new ideas to keep one's social media outreach fresh and attractive can be a real challenge. When the Virginia State Police first launched our Facebook page in March 2010, we had the novel – yet naïve - idea of updating it about three times a week. Quickly we learned that gaining and maintaining one's "fans" was all about providing plenty of relevant, current posts. Fortunately, Google news clips and agency press releases give us plenty of daily material to post on our site. But, there was always that nagging thought t ...

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About This Blog

So you have found, or perhaps stumbled upon, The Social Media Beat, the blog for the IACP Center for Social Media Web site. The Social Media Beat is about three things: social media, law enforcement, and perspective. Here you will find a fresh outlook on the issues that are affecting law enforcement agencies and their personnel when it comes to social media.

Social media is taking the world by storm. Social networks, blogs, photo and video sharing sites, and virtual communities are changing the way people live, work, and play. These tools present unique opportunities as well as challenges to the law enforcement community.  The Social Media Beat brings together a team of bloggers who will speak directly to you about hot topics and current issues.

Bloggers include IACP staff and practitioners in the field who can provide a unique front-line perspective. Our team cares about social media and wants to ensure that law enforcement across the country are knowledgeable and well-equipped to incorporate this technology.

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About the Authors

Dionne Waugh

Dionne Waugh is the Digital Communications Manager for the Jefferson County Sheriff’s Office, which is the largest, full-service sheriff’s office in the state of Colorado. Prior to that, she spent more than six years creating and leading the Richmond, Virginia, Police Department’s social media efforts, which led to international acclaim and recognition.

She has spoken about law enforcement and social media at more than a dozen conferences across the country in addition to four IACP annual conferences. Waugh is a former newspaper reporter who wrote about crime, police, and the court system for several years. That experience and an ingrained curiosity for what makes people tick has fueled her desire to improve communication between people. Follow Dionne on Twitter @JeffCoSheriffCo.

IACP Center for Social Media

IACP's Center for Social Media serves as a clearinghouse of information and no-cost resources to help law enforcement personnel to develop or enhance their agency's use of social media and integrate Web 2.0 tools into agency operations. The Center is funded by the Bureau of Justice Assistance, Office of Justice Programs, U.S. Department of Justice.

Leon Robertson

Officer Leon Robertson is the Social Media Coordinator for the Hampton Police Division. Robertson has developed internationally recognized public safety messages, including the Jingle Bells “Holiday Safety Remix” in December 2013. He has extensive experience in graphic design, video & audio production, and managing various social media platforms. You can follow Officer Robertson’s efforts with the Hampton Police Division on Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube.

Tracy Phillips

Tracy is a Senior Project Specialist with the IACP. She is responsible for managing the day-to-day operation of the Web site and coordinating the site's social networking plan. In addition, Ms. Phillips provides writing, editorial, and technical assistance on a variety of association projects and activities, including police management studies, job analyses, executives searches, federal grants, and various research projects and proposals. She has more than 10 years of experience in state and local government, including work as a management analyst, performance auditor, and crime analyst. Ms. Phillips holds a master's degree in public administration from the University of Georgia and a bachelor's from Clemson University.

Want to hear more from Tracy Phillips? Follow her and the Discover Policing team on TwitterFacebook, and on the Inside Discover Policing blog. You can also network with other police recruitment professionals in the Law Enforcement Recruitment LinkedIn group.

Zach Perron

Lieutenant Zach Perron is the public affairs manager for the Palo Alto (CA) Police Department. Zach was a 2014 visiting fellow at the IACP in the Center for Social Media. He serves on the steering committee for the Bay Area Law Enforcement Social Media Group (BALESMG), and is a member of the US. Department of Homeland Security's Virtual Social Media Working Group (VSMWG). He holds a bachelor's degree in American Studies from Stanford University and is now pursuing a graduate education at the Naval Postgraduate School's Center for Homeland Defense and Security in Monterey, California.  You can follow him on Twitter: @zpPAPD.

Dave Norris

Sergeant Dave Norris is a 21 year veteran of the City of San Mateo Police Department. He has worked in a number of positions including Juvenile Detective, Field Training Officer, Narcotics Detective, and Patrol Supervisor. Dave is currently assigned to Community and Media Relations and oversees day-to-day functions that involve the relationship between the police, the community, and the media. Dave is dedicated to the increase of community engagement through the use of social media. Under his management, San Mateo PD's direct subscribers to community alerts and public safety messaging has grown from several hundred to over 22,000.

Chris Hsiung

Captain Chris Hsiung commands the Field Operations Division at the Mountain View Police Department in California. Through the department Community Action and Information Unit (CAIU), he manages strategy, community engagement, and growth through the police department social media channels. Chris has been serving the Mountain View community for over 19 years and has held a variety of assignments within MVPD. These include detective assignments in Property Crimes, Person Crimes, and High Tech Crimes as well as collateral assignments on SWAT and the Field Evidence Team. He also serves on the planning committee for the Bay Area Law Enforcement Social Media Group (BALESMG). You can follow him on Twitter @chMtnViewPD.

Lynn Hightower

Lynn is the Communications Director and Public Information Officer for the Boise Police Department and has served in that role since October, 2003. Lynn also serves at the PIO for the Boise Fire Department. Lynn authors and manages the social media outreach for Boise Police and often acts as media spokesperson. She advises officers from patrol to command staff on media and public communications skills. Lynn joined the Boise Police Department after 17 years as a television reporter, producer, anchor, and news director. Lynn regularly instructs new officers at the Boise Police Academy and has given media and public communications presentations to dozens of federal, state, and local emergency responder agencies. Follow Lynn and Boise Police on Twitter @BoisePD.

Billy Grogan

Billy Grogan is the Chief of Police for the Dunwoody Police Department in Georgia. Chief Grogan was hired on December 17, 2008, after serving 28 years with the Marietta, Georgia, Police Department, to start a brand new department. On April 1, 2009, the Dunwoody Police Department began operations with 40 sworn officers and eight civilians providing police services to the 47,000+ residents of the City of Dunwoody. Chief Grogan embraced the use of social media from day one of operations. The Dunwoody Police Department began using Twitter the first day and has added Facebook, YouTube, Pinterest, and Vine to their arsenal since then as effective tools to market their department and engage their community. Chief Grogan has written about the benefits of law enforcements use of social media, participated in several social media focus groups and lectured at the IACP, Georgia Association of Chiefs of Police Conference, COPS Conference, and many other venues. Follow Chief Grogan on Twitter @ChiefGrogan and the Dunwoody Police Department @DunwoodyPolice.

Mark Economou

Mark Economou is the Public Information Officer for the Boca Raton Police Department in Boca Raton, Florida. His media and public relations background spans nearly 20 years. Spending nearly 15 years in radio and television news, Economou held many positions from assignment editor, reporter, anchor, and executive editor. After that, he served as the Director of Media Relations for Cote & D'Ambrosio, a Public Relations, Marketing and Advertising firm in Wickford, RI. He then served as head of Media Relations for Citizens Bank of Rhode Island, the 9th largest bank in the United States. Follow Mark on Twitter @BocaPolice.

Frank Domizio

Corporal Frank Domizio has been with the Philadelphia Police Department since 1997. He is currently assigned to the FBI’s Regional Computer Forensics Lab as a Forensic Examiner. Previously he was assigned to the Department's Office of Media Relations and Public Affairs where he was the Social and Digital Media Manager. Frank has spoke at several industry conferences and major universities on the topics of social media and content strategy.

Tim Burrows

Tim Burrows was a sworn police officer for 25 years with experience in front line operations, primary response, traffic, detective operations, and supervision. He has training in a broad spectrum of policing responsibilities including IMS, Emergency Management, computer assisted technology investigations, leadership, community policing, and crisis communications. Tim left policing but has remained involved through consulting with law enforcement on the advancement of communications and social media. Tim runs #CopChat on Wednesday nights at 9pm ET, to allow police and community members to connect and break down barriers. To learn more about him you can follow him on LinkedIn, Twitter and Facebook or click here to contact him

Guest Blogger

The Social Media Beat periodically features guest bloggers who share their perspective on the topic of social media and law enforcement. These individuals are law enforcement professionals; sworn and civilian personnel from agencies of all types and sizes throughout the world. If you are interested in guest blogging, please send your request to All bloggers must be affiliated with a law enforcement agency or educational institution. We cannot accept blog entries from vendors or others working in a for-profit capacity.

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