In this space, you read volumes of good information from several talented and diverse law enforcement individuals about all the best ways to make social media work for your agency.
The only thing better than that is experiencing and learning the information in person with a group of like-minded professionals.
To that end, Richmond PD just partnered with the Virginia Association of Chiefs of Police
to launch the Virginia Law Enforcement Social Media Group. The goal is to have quarterly meetings across the state as well as a smaller, planning committee that talks monthly to plan a diverse agenda.
Creating this group has been a personal goal of mine ever since I first heard about the Bay Area Law Enforcement Social Media Group (BALESMG
), created by the Redwood City and Fremont Police Departments.
The idea of law enforcement agencies not just considering using social media, but actually embracing it so much so that they get together to brainstorm ideas, discuss issues and experiences, and strategize ways they could work together is incredibly inspiring! According to my colleague, Lt. Zach Perron
with the Palo Alto Police Department, ours is only the third such group in existence and the first outside of California. The second is the San Gabriel Valley Law Enforcement Social Media Group
Virginia is such a small state that most of us in law enforcement either already know one another or have at least heard about the person or agency. And if not, this group now connects us. I personally follow several law enforcement agencies across Virginia that use social media to see how they do things and I know several of the people behind the good work so I thought, why can’t we create a group here?
I peppered my fellow IACP blogger Dave Norris with questions about how theirs was set up, their agenda, and the basic event planning before partnering with my friends at the Virginia Association of Chiefs of Police. Between my connections and theirs, we were able to reach a good variety of agencies across the state that then came to our first meeting on May 1, held at the Richmond Police Training Academy.
I’m proud to say we had more than 40 people in attendance from across the state, ranging from chiefs to lieutenants, detectives to civilian PIOs. I’m not exaggerating when I say that I think every single person in that room told me at some point during the event that they got something out of the meeting. Whether it was connecting with someone at another agency, learning something new, or just being happy to have other individuals with whom they can ask questions, the meeting was definitely a success.
I think some officers who recognize the importance of using social media are often teased by their colleagues who don’t realize how critical it is. This group gives them the support they need to move ahead with their endeavors.
The meeting was only three hours and included:
• a presentation from myself, Lt. Dan Minton
, Lt. Dave Naoroz
, and Deputy Chief John Buturla
about some of our experiences using social media at Richmond Police,
• a vendor presentation,
• a brief presentation from the IACP about their resources
• a presentation from the Hampton Police Department’s Officer Leon Robertson about their homemade, viral “Jingle Bells” video
We provided coffee and some of Richmond’s best Power Rings, aka doughnuts from the Sugar Shack, and it was a very productive policing meeting. Everyone had a chance to ask questions throughout the event and many people offered several good suggestions for topics at future meetings, in addition to offering to host the next meeting.
We have also set up an e-mail listserv so people can stay in touch and get feedback anytime they have a question.
All in all, it was a great success and we can’t wait for the next meeting this summer. Agencies that are interested in joining can do so via the VACP