The Social Media Beat

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The Social Media Beat

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Free Can Come with a Hefty Price Tag

By Tim Burrows

Tim Burrows

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

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I remember when I first started using social media to promote a new way of communication for police and law enforcement agencies I would often say, “What’s not to like about it…it’s free!” Nothing has changed about that in the last four or so years. Social media is still free to use. It is still free to create accounts and it is still free to share your message. BUT, please don’t confuse free to use or free to share with the belief that social media doesn’t come with a price tag. Quite simply, because it does. Entering the world of social media is free and I believe because of that, many agencies and officers have jumped in with both feet without considering the actual cost of using social media. When social media was new to policing it seemed that everyone was opening accounts on various platforms just because that’s what everyone else was doing. There was lots of talk about having a Twitter account or a Facebook profile because, “That’s w ...

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Thursday, September 20, 2012

Tampa Police Department and the RNC – How Planning, Consistency, and “Owning Social Media” Paid Off in Much More than Good PR

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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You’ve heard the saying, “You create your own luck.” Tampa Police Department (TPD) spent months training and planning, on paper and in the field, for an event held once every four years and historically marked by conflict – a national political convention. In Tampa, however, the event was peaceful. I know. I had the good fortune to be there and learn from TPD’s experience with the RNC. At the upcoming IACP Conference in San Diego, you can too. The Public Information Officers Section is fortunate to have a presentation planned by the Tampa Police Public Information Officer, Laura McElroy. Communications strategies used by TPD externally, with the public, and media during the RNC, carried the same message the department used to train officers who would be face-to-face with sometimes angry, unpredictable demonstrators – individual contacts should be handled with respect, maintaining dignity and demonstrators rights to free speech, while balancing the need for officer, ...

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Tuesday, September 18, 2012

So I'm Too Old to do Social Media Well, Huh?

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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So I'm too old to do social media well, huh? That seems to be the real headline to this article by a young woman who believes—very misguidedly—that only people under age 25 should manage social media sites. Wow. Beyond how insulting it is to those of us incredibly skilled “seniors” who currently do a fantastic job using social media to communicate with our communities, it’s just plain wrong. By the way, I’m 32. While the younger generation grew up using social media as often as they did their algebra homework, older generations have additional assets of matured opinions, the ability to see the big picture and understand the importance of patience. More catchy or social-media-friendly tweets and posts can be learned. The same is true for technology, even if it takes us a little longer. The ability to know when to respond and when to consult with others before instantly responding to something on social media--which is what the younger generation grew up doing- ...

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Friday, September 14, 2012

Removing Offensive Posts and Blocking Those Who Post Offensive Comments

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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One of the best values for law enforcement agencies who use social media is the interaction that takes place between the agency and members of the community. Unfortunately, many agencies that use social media platforms, like Facebook, have opted to not allow comments thereby stifling community engagement. Reasons cited for not allowing comments vary but primarily fall into two categories.  The first is the fear of criticism of the department. This will not be discussed in this post. The second reason is the fear that inappropriate comments using vulgar language, racial epitaphs, or derogatory remarks will be posted. Recently, one of the people who “likes” the Dunwoody Police Department on Facebook posted several comments which were derogatory in nature and were clearly racially insensitive. The comments were posted several times over the course of 3-4 weeks. The comments did not use profanity nor did they use any racial epitaphs. However, the comments were clearly racially biased toward Af ...

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Monday, September 10, 2012

Expecting the Unexpected: Social Media in Large Scale Events

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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This past week I had the opportunity to help the Tampa Police Department during the Republican National Convention. PIO Laura McElroy, who will present at IACP 2012 about how she planned for this event, had a terrific plan and team in place. She had every base covered. She assembled a PIO Team from around the U.S. and Canada. Her mission was twofold. Be reactive to things being posted on social media sites about law enforcement and find the positive stories in between the protest. We succeeded beyond anyone’s expectations and this is why. Being prepared and having a team in place that understands how important social media is today, especially at a large scale event like the RNC. There were a handful of us monitoring Twitter, by setting up hashtag search columns to monitor what the protesters were talking about. Finding pictures that showed law enforcement in a positive light, not the riot squads setting up human barricades to keep protesters back. Too often at large scale events like this; the media ...

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Thursday, September 06, 2012

Gearing up for IACP 2012

By IACP Center for Social Media

IACP Center for Social Media

IACP's Center for Social Media is a clearinghouse of information and no-cost resources to help law enforcement use social media.

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The IACP Annual Conference and Exposition (IACP 2012) is just a few weeks away. Join us in San Diego, California, September 29 – October 3 for nonstop education, exhibits, and a chance to expand your professional network. The IACP conference is a great opportunity to meet others in the field and collaborate on ways to innovate and solve issues back home. With over 200 educational sessions, there is something for everyone from officer to civilian employee to chief executive. Be sure to check out the numerous workshops dedicated to the latest technologies and practices in social media. Here are just a few: * Establishing a Social Media Presence (Learning Lab) - IACP Center for Social Media staff will provide step-by-step tutorials to assist law enforcement agencies in establishing a social media presence and monitoring strategy. Staff will be available to answer questions and provide additional assistance. * Measuring the Return on Your Social Media Presence (Technology and Information Sharing Trac ...

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Tuesday, September 04, 2012

Are Police Creative – or Gutsy – Enough to Capitalize on Internet Meme (and Should They)?

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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Two of my favorite Internet sensations of late are Call Me Maybe videos and McKayla is Not Impressed photoshopped images. Near as I can tell, law enforcement has failed to jump on either bandwagon. Maybe I’m the only one who sees the potential… If you have no idea what I am talking about, allow me to get you up to speed so that you may dazzle family and friends with your keen pop culture insight and enlighten your coworkers on how law enforcement can relate to these two phenomena. You’re sure to either be lauded or laughed at. Police: Call Me Maybe Call Me Maybe is an infectious earworm of a song by Carly Rae Jepsen, which inexplicably has spawned an over-abundance of music video parodies, from celebrity lip-dubs to the Harvard baseball team, U.S. Olympic swim team, and Big Ten college mascots, just to name a few. I am patiently waiting, but to date I have yet to see a police department capitalize on the obvious connection here. Really, does no one else see it? Hello. Police. 91 ...

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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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