I arrived at the FBI Academy for the FBI LEEDS program on Sunday, January 22, 2012. As I looked at the upcoming training scheduled for the program, I was pleasantly surprised to see Nancy Kolb with the IACP scheduled to speak about social media. Nancy spoke to our class of law enforcement executives and did an excellent job outlining the value and uses of social media in law enforcement.
As Nancy spoke, I began to think about how important social media education in law enforcement is at all levels of the organization. Social Media is not a fad. Social Media is here to stay and law enforcement must learn all they can about how to use it in order to take advantage of the benefits and guard against the pitfalls.
Law enforcement basic training should provide a block of social media training that educates the young officer about officer safety issues related to their personal use of social media. In addition, the training should provide new officers with a roadmap of how they can use social media in a way that does not cause issues within their organizations. A current review of case law and typical policies would be appropriate.
Organizations should also provide in-service and/or specialized training in social media to their front line supervisors and middle managers. This crucial part of the organization is charged with carrying forth and implementing the vision and policies of the department. Front line supervisors and middle managers must understand their department’s social media policy
and the limitations faced when enforcing that policy. In addition, a broad understanding of social media platforms
, concepts, and benefits is critical.
Finally, social media training should be provided to police chiefs and command staff. This training should be broad in scope and outline the benefits of using social media for their organizations. In many communities, the agency head and command staff have little knowledge in this area. It is important for them to understand the basics and be able to grasp the importance of using social media in their organization, having a social media policy, and developing a social media strategy.
The IACP does an exceptional job providing social media information and training
and during training sessions at their annual training conference
. However, law enforcement social media training must be integrated across the country; in each state and directed at all levels of the organization if law enforcement truly wants to take advantage of the power and benefits of social media while mitigating the associated risks.