The law enforcement response to the Boston Marathon bombings has been the source of many hoorahs and kudos, and rightly so. In the context of this blog and the Center for Social Media, I’ll focus on four elements (trends?) we haven’t quite seen before on this scale and magnitude. Think about how you can use, learn from, and apply them in your department. For more insight into this event, please read Lynn Hightower’s blog post
Rocking Social Media
. Like almost no agency before them, Boston capitalized on social media to manage the message and control the story. The Boston Police effectively became its own news outlet, out-scooping the media as the go-to source for timely and accurate information. It is reasonable to assume that your citizens are now looking to you to do the same. Check out this recent @-mention for the Denver Police as proof:
@jmd9qs: @DenverPolice Thank you for your continued efforts! I rely on you MUCH more than the local news for ACCURATE updates!
. Many law enforcement agencies do this every day by posting mug shots, CCTV clips of suspects, and imploring the community for tips in apprehending them. But Boston’s casting call for photo and video footage was huge. Crowdsourcing police investigations is community policing for the 21st century. The Boston example was an amplified magnified version.
. One delightful outcome of all of this was an overwhelming public support for police. Who has ever seen throngs of people cheering police like Watertown did when Suspect #2 was hauled away? Certainly – from a recruitment perspective, from a community relations perspective – this is a wave we all want to ride. How can we – as a profession, as message managers for that profession – ride we capitalize on and sustain the overwhelming public goodwill and support we saw at work in Boston?
. The public was enthralled with the Boston bombing case. Granted, over-eager armchair investigators led to the rampant spread of misinformation
via Twitter and Reddit, but people were into this crime like no other. Imagine if we could bottle up that enthusiasm and direct it toward a rash of neighborhood B&Es or car break-ins at the local mall? Like Sir Robert Peal said, the police are the public and the public are the police…
How is your agency’s approach to social media and public engagement changed or not changed after the Boston bombings?