The Social Media Beat

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The Social Media Beat

Friday, February 28, 2014

Keeping it Real

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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I recently attended a statewide PIO conference here in the state of Florida.  It amazes me to see how things have changed in a short five years.  Just five years ago, the few of us integrating social media into law enforcement were being looked at funny.  Why would we want to get into social media?  Why would we want to respond to everyone’s questions?  Why would we want to tell people everything going on?   At this conference there were 200 PIOs from all over the state of Florida and during the entire day not one of those questions came up.  Instead, everyone gave examples of recent events where they had to take to social media.  From a movie theater shooting to the recent Justin Bieber arrest in South Florida, everyone spoke about how they used social media in their situation. It brings me to what the public expects and what we are expected to give them.  Just yesterday we had a residential burglary where the victim was in the house when two individua ...

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Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Blogging for Recruits

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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Last month I explored Facebook pages dedicated to recruitment. This month, we’ll take a look at blogs devoted to the same task.  These two approaches have similar benefits. Namely, the option for readers to comment on a post and ask questions.   Answering commonly asked questions in a public forum can help recruiters save time. You may be asking, “Why do I need a recruitment blog when I already have a website or webpage that focuses on recruitment?”  Good question. Dedicated recruitment websites or webpages certainly are fine but they don’t offer the flexibility of a blog. With a blog YOU create and upload the content and the images, and visitors can comment on your posts. With a website, (typically) you have to go through a web developer to edit or update the content. Blogs offer a platform for current content and routine updates. If you don’t have that, or have the time to create it, and you’re fine with the static nature of a website/page, there&rs ...

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Friday, February 21, 2014

Branding the Social Badge

By Tim Burrows

Tim Burrows

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

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In the world of business, this type of branding on a social media account is an absolute nightmare and I don’t mean having your account hacked.   What I mean is the absolutely confusing image that is created when the brand, the message, and the strategy are all just one giant mess. There are so many police and law enforcement agencies that are entering the social media field now. A few years ago, there were just a handful of forward thinking agencies and now there are thousands of agencies and officers that are spreading the message of safety, security, and service. One of the challenges that this creates for agencies is the naming of their accounts and the strategy behind those accounts messaging. Here is where the illustration above comes into focus for police. Branding. So many agencies are missing the awesome opportunity to share their image both figuratively and realistically.  While others have done a masterful job of this. John Michael Morgan, author of “Br ...

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Tuesday, February 18, 2014

RPD Loves Animals & Good Police Stories – And So Does the Rest of the World

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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At this point in the social media game, most people know that photos of animals are pretty popular. From police agencies’ K-9 units to mounted squads to animal rescues, it’s clear that the people love animal postings. But a recent Facebook project of ours just blew us away by showing us how MUCH the whole world loves both animal postings AND good police stories when it made two of our posts go viral. That project (and Facebook photo album) was called “RPD Loves Animals.” The main reason we did this project was to showcase how much animals teach us and how those experiences make our officers better people and subsequently better officers. I think a lot of the times when people hear about police and animals, it involves an officer shooting a dog, but not this time. This time we profiled six officers who have a variety of interesting animals or animal experiences and what it has taught them. Some examples included an officer who takes the time to volunteer at the city animal she ...

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Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Complaints, Complaints – Two Old Kinds of Complaints Providing New Dilemmas in Social Media

By Dave Norris

Dave Norris

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

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I think about complaints as they relate to our law enforcement profession in two different strains – there are the complaints that we hear from the public that challenge us as an agency to do differently, better, or to refer the complainants under certain circumstances to the right agency for proper action. Then there are complaints – the not so “challenging” kind – dealing with the performance of our personnel, and requiring either an explanation if the answer is procedural, or an investigation/officer counseling session if there is an officer to be held accountable.   Last week, Captain Chris Hsiung addressed the good stuff on the inside, and truthfully, we should be thankful that there are more complimentary comments coming our way that we can share with the troops than negative ones. Hopefully I don’t sound like “Davey-downer” after that inspiring blog, but indulge me as I address a similarly important topic that addresses the side that many of us dre ...

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Friday, February 07, 2014

Social Media: More than Just a Tool

By Chris Hsiung

Chris Hsiung

Captain Chris Hsiung commands the Field Operations Division at the Mountain View Police Department in California. You can follow him on Twitter @chMtnViewPD.

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Does your agency deploy social media as a communication tool used by a select few or is it a philosophy that is embraced in your organization from the top down?  As a tool, there’s no question social media has become a “game changing” method for reaching our communities. However, the use of social media has far greater potential and dividends in an organization when thought of and instilled as a department philosophy. When the Mountain View Police Department (CA) first started actively using social media in the summer of 2012, we viewed it as a tool that had great potential in reaching our tech savvy community.  Content management and day-to-day posts were managed by one person but the rest of the department (patrol, detectives, records, and dispatch) continued on, independent of the mission and goals of the social media unit.  Fast forward a few months later and the department made the strategic decision to shift to a social media "philosophy" that touched every work unit ...

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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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