The Social Media Beat

The Year That Has Been and a Look Ahead

The Year That Has Been and a Look Ahead

By: Tim Burrows
Date: Thursday, December 22, 2011

Tim Burrows

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

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Tracy Phillips posed the question here a couple of weeks ago, “Would I be exaggerating if I called 2011 the year for social media in law enforcement?”

I answer to you Tracy, No. It’s not an exaggeration. I think back to late 2008 when I ran my first Twitter Search for the word police. 15 results, 12 actual police agencies, no individuals and of those 12 agencies… NO interaction with the public. Tweets that added no foreseeable values were being sent and no RT’s, @replies, or @mentions. Facebook? Even less police were there… at least less agencies and individuals identifying themselves as police. You could find lots of people you suspected were police by their listed occupation, “Human Garbage Collector” or their latest status update, “Just found a dismembered body in an abandoned building. Reminds me, need to pick up pasta and sauce for dinner tonight.” Or their page likes, friends, and so on.

There were only a few places to go that someone venturing out into social media could turn for reliable factual information on how to “do” social for law enforcement and exactly zero were actually from law enforcement.

Fast forward through the next two years. I added just under 1200 Twitter IDs and 500 Facebook IDs to lists of law enforcement. In 2011 alone I added 1400 Twitter IDs and 1000 Facebook IDs. By no means do I think I have I seen them all or feel my lists are complete, but that will give you an idea of the growth. You can find very credible sources of information to assist you in your answers about social media use for law enforcement now.

Beyond the growth though, is the more impressive depth to the accounts that have been created and the use of those accounts. We have seen a literal explosion in two way communication and information sharing from police with the public and vice versa. We have learned that being social is the first step to doing social. We have seen the importance of listening first, understanding second, and talking last.

There have been great success and noticeable failures.

By no means are we done yet! I believe the best and worst are both yet to come. So here are my Top 11 predictions for the coming year (Top 10 lists…ugh, everyone does them):

1. The proper and professional use of video is going to become second nature for a strong social media program.
2. Blogs will blossom.
3. Budgets will demand that analytics and ROI become commonplace to support social media efforts and scale.
4. Because of that, more with less is going to be the norm…be great or don’t be at all.
5. Mobile will continue to advance by leaps and bounds which will play well into more with less and ROI
6. The ‘love-in’ experienced, “just because” the public’s local police are using social media is over and the public will demand (and deserve) greater accountability.
7. There will be less tolerance for mistakes, faux pas, and ignorance.
8. Internal monitoring will be strengthened. Risk management, mitigation, policy, and training will be solidified.
9. Working partnerships with individuals of influence, community groups, professional partnerships, and other police agencies will be standard.
10. Strategic development of programs, campaigns, and priorities will be implemented by the most committed agencies.
11. Interoperability.

The tweet for the sake of tweeting, post for the sake of posting days are fleeting. Real substance and value will be the best for everyone. It’s time to step it up a notch and really use social media for everything that it has to offer!

I also believe that to be true to what we represent, we will have to hold ourselves and our brothers and sisters accountable for the good of all. When mistakes are made, we will owe it to ourselves to help teach, criticize in a constructive way, and tell each other how we can improve. No different then debriefing a major incident or a traumatic event. We can all learn from our mistakes for the greater good.

In closing, I want to thank each and every one of you who have read, commented, and interacted with me over the past year. Thanks to the IACP for the leadership and vision for providing such a great resource to turn to.

From the Burrows family to you, have a very safe and enjoyable festive holiday season and an incredible New Year!
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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 social media guru for the Richmond Police Department. As a member of the Department's Public Affairs Unit since September 2008, she created and developed the agency's successful use of social media and continues to try and find new ways to improve the way Richmond Police communicate online. She has spoken about law enforcement and social media at more than a dozen conferences across the country in addition to the past four IACP annual conferences. Waugh is a former newspaper reporter who wrote about crime, police, and the court system for six 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 @RichmondPolice.

    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 DiscoverPolicing.org 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.

    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 http://bit.ly/ContactTimBurrows

    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 socialmedia@theiacp.org. 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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