The Social Media Beat

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The Social Media Beat

Friday, October 24, 2014

Social Media Created Citizen Investigators

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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Whether your department uses Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, or a different platform, you can take advantage of the power of social media to create citizen investigators across your community.  Unfortunately, that will never happen unless your department is using social media and making a concerted effort to engage your community.  One of the easiest ways to activate these citizen investigators is to post videos or photos of suspects committing crimes so they may be identified.  A quick search of Google reveals how successful this simple, yet effective, tool can be.  A lot of stolen merchandise finds its way to police departments and it can be difficult to locate the rightful owner.  Fortunately, social media provides a great platform to reconnect those separated from their property.  Simply take a photo of the stolen property, post it on your social media channels with a description and wait for the leads to come in.  Ok.  It might not work that easily, bu ...

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Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Bringing Your Social Media Audience as Close as Nextdoor

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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Think about it – a lot of us take a lot of time to produce some really great social media posts. We post on a variety of platforms with content that’s creative and engaging, even entertaining. It’s fun to see the number of people reached and count the likes. All these posts are designed to do something very important to the livability of our communities – build relationships to improve public safety. Our goal for using electronic communication is to prompt face to face communication among residents and officers about how our neighborhoods can be safer places. As of Friday, Oct. 3, 2014, Boise Police could engage with some 9,230 people via a platform called We have greater potential outreach using Facebook and Twitter and engaging those audiences has created a lot of opportunities for public safety education. So, what’s the difference? All the connections via Nextdoor are local. The audience is folks who actually live in the City of Boise. Led by t ...

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Thursday, October 16, 2014

In a Communications Crisis? Twitter is Your Number One Weapon

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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To use an ironic cliché, we bloggers may sound like a broken record when we constantly write about the importance of social media, but there are just so many examples of its importance that we can’t help but repeat ourselves. This past week we had a great experience at Richmond Police that showed yet again just how crucial a role social media can play during one of our first experiences with an active shooter type call at a small local college. In short, we used it to corral the media, put out accurate information to the community as quickly as possible as well as correct misinformation and encourage citizens to do their part to protect the safety of our officers. It all started with emailed alerts from the downtown college about a possible active shooter, which resulted in a cascade of media calls. My coworker already knew the best location to stage media thanks to earlier preparation training and I immediately tweeted that location. Even though we had to update it once he got closer, ...

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Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Social Media at Special Events

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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Whether it’s a community festival, sporting event, concert, or other large event gathering, strategically communicating through your digital media channels can greatly magnify your agency’s reach to attendees and assist with getting timely information from the command post to the public. These days, most events have an associated hashtag. Prior to the event, these hashtags are usually used for marketing purposes by the event planners. This is an opportune time for your agency to identify and use the same hashtag to send out pre-event safety tips, traffic detour information, or anything else relevant for attendees to know. The added advantage to using a hashtag is that it will help you reach people who don’t normally follow you but are already part of the social conversation for the event. My colleague in the city next to me, Lt. Zach Perron, does a great job of this at Stanford University Football games.  #NerdNation is a frequently used hashtag for their games and by using it effective ...

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Friday, October 10, 2014

Twitter Tip – Using Your Favorites Tab

By Tim Burrows

Tim Burrows

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

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How often have you been scrolling through your Twitter stream and you see a tweet that is just so awesome that you need to be able to come back to it over and over again? Or someone posts a link to some great content that you want to get into but just don’t have the time right then. What about when you’re mentioned in a tweet that you really appreciate and you want to save it? We’ve all probably had those things happen to us and the logical answer is to push the favorite button.  Then…we forget about it. I mean we forget all about why we favorited the tweet or so much time has passed that we no longer can find the tweet because we’ve pushed, “Favorite” so many times? Been there…done that. The favorite option is a great tool. People use them for a variety of reasons: * Save a tweet for later reference. * Catalogue something said for later use. * Show appreciation to someone without retweeting it. Your favorite column can also end up ...

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Wednesday, October 08, 2014

A Great Place to Share Campaigns

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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We saw it recently with the Ice Bucket Challenge for ALS. Slowly our news feed became flooded with videos of people dumping a bucket of ice water over their heads to raise awareness for ALS. Then it started, one police department, then one fire department, before you know it thousands of first responders are accepting the challenge. We’ve talked about using social media to get the positive messages out about our agencies, and this is no different. Many times agencies get bogged down just posting the crime and arrest stories. But with this medium we have the opportunity to showcase our finest and the “other” things they do on a daily basis. Now here we are in October. It’s Breast Cancer Awareness month along with Domestic Violence Awareness month and again the news feed is starting to fill with lots of pink law enforcement vehicles, uniforms, and lots of awareness for those seeking help for domestic violence. The medium is a great way to spread the word, to help those in need t ...

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Friday, October 03, 2014

The Importance of Collaboration

By Leon Robertson

Leon Robertson

Officer Leon Robertson is the Social Media Coordinator for the Hampton Police Division in Virginia.

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We exist in one of the most technologically transformative phases in history.  The rapid development of new communication solutions presents the need for a comprehensive review of best practices and potential policy recommendations.  The Virginia Law Enforcement Social Media Group has been established on the east coast to review the rapidly evolving world of social media. The first meeting was recently held in Richmond, Virginia thanks to all of the hard work by Dionne Waugh, the Public Information Officer for the Richmond Police Department. As I understand it, this is one of the first groups to exist for this purpose.  Every meeting I have attended brought me new insight on techniques to best reach the community that I serve.  I cannot begin to express how important it is to have so many like-minded professionals strategizing about the new technological tools we are so fortunate to have at our disposal.   Topics of conversation at meetings range from creative ideas to policy develo ...

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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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