The Social Media Beat

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The Social Media Beat

Monday, September 30, 2013

Getting on Board with Social Media

By Tim Burrows

Tim Burrows

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

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Policing and law enforcement agencies are a dynamic mix of the old and new.  Old personnel, new personnel. Old thinking, new thinking.  Old techniques, new techniques. Old technology, new technology.  I’ve always found it quite funny to deal with the dinosaur mentalities of policing.  The people who are stuck in the idea of, “That’s not how we used to do it.”  “Why do we need to change?”  “I wouldn’t ever do it that way.”

Dinosaur thinking has a lot to do with where we are today.  Massive oversight, lack of trust and respect, less people banging down the doors of our recruitment offices.

Not all dinosaur thoughts are wrong.  How to investigate, how to carry yourself, how to interview.  These are the staples of policing.  Time tested and proven things.

But there are many dinosaurs that do not understand the value that a robust social media presence can bring to your community and your agency.  The speed of information exchange, the dynamic depth of conversations, the ability for the community to share your information.

Budgets, priorities, community safety, personal safety, awareness, and education can all be impacted by the use of social media.  Both positive and negative. 

Social media is not the silver bullet for policing.  While alone it will not save the world, catch the criminals, insulate your citizens or reduce your budgets…coupled with old school and new school, it can have dramatic impacts on all of the above.

There is a definite clash between the old and the new with the use of social media for policing and law enforcement.   But, if you are resisting, you need to question and identify what it is you don’t like about it and then recognize one major factor.  The rest of the world is on board…why aren’t you?  Whose thinking is out of line?

Are there risks?  Absolutely.  But if we lived in a world without risk, you wouldn’t get out of bed in the morning.  Managing the risks is key.

I recommend that if you or anyone in your agency is fearful of entering into the social media/social networking space then make sure you attend the social media/ public information streams at this year’s IACP Annual Conference.  You will be enlightened by those that are actually doing social right.  The same people that have met the risks and objectives head on and championed the good of their communities by entering into the space.

How many of you said, “I will never carry a cell phone.”  Or, “I will never use Facebook.”  Chances are, many of had said those statements…and chances are, you are doing both.

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Wednesday, September 25, 2013

New Twitter Alerts to Disseminate Emergency and Disaster Information

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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Today Twitter announced the launch of Twitter Alerts, a system for public safety, emergency management, and related agencies to send push notifications to disseminate critical information during an emergency or disaster. Law enforcement agencies have priority access to the system. Public agencies can enroll here.

Friday, September 20, 2013

Social vs. Traditional Media

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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Imagine this scenario: You hear about a funny “dumb criminal” arrest story from one of your officers and you just know how popular it would be if you post on your department’s Facebook page. Not only will it draw more fans to like your page, but it will also go a long way in showing off all the other good items there as well. Then you get a call from a TV reporter who heard about the quirky arrest and wants to do a story about it before you’ve posted the information. So, which comes first? Traditional media or social media? Like the clichéd chicken or the egg, I think the answer can be both. The reason it can be both is partly because it has to be—police agencies will always have to work with traditional media to a certain extent—but also because both platforms have different audiences and different types of reach. Not everyone who watches local TV is on Facebook or follows the police department on Facebook and vice versa. Additionally, a TV station w ...

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Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Breaking News and Tweeting

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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As I sit here and scramble to write another blog that’s late, I am watching the multiple televisions we have in our office.  On them is breaking news coverage of the shooting at the U.S. Navy Yard in Washington, D.C. When tragic events like this happen around the country, I find myself instantly turning to Twitter to see if there is any “updated” information, even though the reporters are live at the scene. Also we start talking in the office, “How long is it going to take for the agency involved to get out in front of this?”  It’s events like this, where the information starts spinning out of control quickly and if no one gets out in front of it, misinformation could be reported.  In this situation there were multiple agencies involved given its location, Metro Police, FBI, DHS, ATF, and many more.  Almost instantly I check out the Navy’s Twitter feed and was surprised to see accurate updated information.  It wasn’t much as the situa ...

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Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Organizing Your Social Media Strategy

By Dave Norris

Dave Norris

Dave Norris is a sergeant with San Mateo, California, Police Department.

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At a recent meeting of our Bay Area Law Enforcement Social Media Group (#BALESMG), I was pleased to see a nice mix of experienced LESM users, energized recently-started  users, and brand-new users just beginning their adventure in social media. I have been saying to these audiences for a couple of years now “If you are here, and you are doing law enforcement social media, it is likely that you are THE GUY or THE GAL doing social media for your agency.” Experienced agencies are just beginning to de-centralize the solo LESM responsibility and form “Social Media Teams.”   I think this cross-section now represents very well how law enforcement in general is currently involved in social media. As a culture, we have recognized that it is here to stay, and the influence of social media on how we interact with our community will continue to increase. That makes the learning opportunities ripe, with many upcoming law enforcement conferences focusing on technology, the Internet, ...

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Friday, September 06, 2013

Bringing Social Media Home – To Your Website

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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Home is where the heart is.  There’s no place like home. Our Internet home is our agency’s website, and as we are so often busy with looking at the newest or shiniest tool in our social media toolbox, here’s a thought - stop every now and then and ask yourself, how shiny, useful, and cool is my website? If your website is not shiny, useful and cool, before you go any further promoting social media, go home and fix up your website. An agency’s website is its Internet presence. Our website establishes our credibility and is where people will most often find us online. A police agency with 20 officers or 2,000 officers can present itself as awesome and service-oriented depending on the agency’s website. How our agency’s website appears shows how seriously we take our business, where our focus is, and what we want people to know or think about us. We have absolute control over how dynamic, progressive, and customer focused our agency appears via our website. ...

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Wednesday, September 04, 2013

What’s New in YouTube Channels

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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Fall asleep at the wheel of your social media campaign, and when you wake up you’ll find stuff has changed. Such is the case with YouTube, which – as you may or may not know, depending on your sleep pattern – changed its channel layout earlier this year to “YouTube One Channel” – a more versatile format that makes for seamless viewing across platforms (desktop, mobile, tablet, etc). So, the lovely background image you made for your “old” channel back in the day – Alaska State Troopers, I’m talking to you, well it’s now gone with the wind and replaced with a delightful geometric banner color keyed to your avatar. Here are some tips to get you going with the new(ish) You Tube One Channel layout: •    Update your art.  The banner is called “Channel Art” and it’s really not a banner.       It’s a giant image that will scale automatically to look great on any device, from &nb ...

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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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