This guest blog comes from Rebecca Rosenblatt of the San Mateo County Sheriff's Office. Deputy Rosenblatt has been in law enforcement for the past eight years. She previously worked in patrol as a K9 handler for the Millbrae Police Department until the department was consolidated by the sheriff's office in early 2012. Deputy Rosenblatt is currently assigned as the San Mateo County Sheriff’s Office Public Information Officer, a full time position she tested for and was assigned to late last year. Though her job responsibilities are diverse, a key part of her daily routine is maintaining and updating the sheriff’s office website, Facebook, and Twitter accounts.
The San Mateo County Sheriff’s Office
, the agency for which I work, is located in what is commonly known as the Silicon Valley region of California. Silicon Valley is also home to many of technology’s heavy hitters, including Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube to name a few. At the onset, I couldn’t have told you the difference between a retweet and a hashtag. And what I quickly realized was that more proficiency was necessary to get a mid sized sheriff’s office tweeting and Facebooking than the level of skill it had taken me to set up my own personal Facebook profile years earlier.
In retrospect the biggest help I had in getting @SMCSheriff
off the ground was embracing the very nature of social media itself by reaching out for assistance from my neighboring law enforcement agencies. As it turned out, many of those agencies had already developed their social media presence and were happy to share their experiences on the trials and tribulations of getting started. I reached out to nearby @RedwoodCityPD
, and @PaloAltoPolice
, each of whom had own individual nuanced methods on how social media best suited the needs of each of their communities. Currently @SMCSheriff
currently has over 1,200 followers on Twitter
and about half that number on Facebook
, with a following that grows every day!
Whether your aim is crime prevention, community outreach, crime alerts, or some combination, social media is an invaluable tool for feedback from your community on investigative leads or even basic information dissemination. In moments of crisis the community looks to social media, often before the TV news or radio, for real time updates on what’s going on. My agency is just one amongst a long list of law enforcement agencies, most of whom are doing a phenomenal job of embracing the social media trend. They stand as examples to those just starting out. Whether you choose to update posts several times a day or several times a week, getting your community to know you are going to be there for them both in the traditional sense as well as in cyberspace is an invaluable resource for modern law enforcement. If you are not yet there, I can say from personal experience, you need only reach out to the greater law enforcement community and you and your agency will be social media savvy in no time.