About the author: Lieutenant Chris Hsiung is assigned to Special Operations and is the social media manager in charge of strategy, community engagement and growth through the police department social media channels. Chris has been serving the Mountain View community for over 18 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. Twitter: @chMtnViewPD.
About the co-author: Shino Tanaka is MVPD’s Public Safety and Social Media Community Coordinator where she also leads the Community Action and Information Unit. Shino drives the department’s social strategy and community relations. Prior to joining MVPD, she worked in social product development for technology start-ups — one of which was acquired by Johnson & Johnson. Shino is also a former police officer with Menlo Park Police Department.
One of the beauties of social media is law enforcement’s ability to present information to the public in a quick and timely manner. Whether it’s a Tweet
about a traffic incident, a suspect’s photo on Facebook
or a community alert using tools like Nixle
, we have the ability — now more than ever — to connect and inform our community, fast.
On the one hand, social media’s insertion into law enforcement allows for greater public visibility. On the other, it uncovers a window into the ever-present reality of crime. This new perspective can often be a surprising and jarring transition for communities as police departments make public incidents, trends and statistics. It requires a mindset shift from the unknown to the known as we begin to consistently disseminate information to the public.
It is the Mountain View Police Department’s hope this level of transparency not only provides additional clarity into how we serve the community, but is the impetus needed to create connections within our neighborhoods. Combine these interactions with a holistic approach to crime prevention and criminal apprehension and the confluence of community, law enforcement and social becomes a very powerful force.
Community policing transformed our industry decades ago by fostering the philosophy of problem solving partnerships between law enforcement and the communities we serve. Social media has the innate ability to build upon, and improve, that philosophy by including the community in the problem solving process when the crime occurs; not just hours or days later.
Social media is a great tool allowing us to reach a wide audience within a short amount of time. However, it’s just that: a tool. We still need the human power — in tandem with social media — to further strengthen our neighborhoods so we can provide a safer and more secure community for all.
The Mountain View Police Department is an active member of the Bay Area Law Enforcement Social Media Group (BALESMG). The group is comprised of social media representatives from law enforcement agencies throughout the San Francisco Bay Area and is dedicated to sharing law enforcement social media best practices, networking, and ensuring Bay Area communities are able to effectively engage their police departments through social media.