Reputation Management: Where do the Police Draw the Line?

If you watch the news on any given day or search through social media, you might get the view that law enforcement is doing a terrible job.  It seems like police departments are doing a terrible job hiring, training, disciplining and firing officers or at least some would have the public believe that is the case.  How does a police department combat this constant barrage of misinformation?  How can a police department effectively manage its reputation?

Recently, one department took a unique approach to this issue.  It is alleged that the New York Police Department, or at least someone accessing IP addresses on their network, made a number of changes in their favor to stories posted on Wikipedia.  You can read the full story at http://nypost.com/2015/03/13/nypd-computers-used-to-change-police-brutality-wikipedia-pages/

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Law Enforcement Leaders Must Embrace Social Media

In the last five years, the number of law enforcement agencies using social media has risen dramatically. Today, a majority of departments use social media in some way to engage their communities, market their departments and solve crime. I don’t believe social media would be so widely used and accepted by law enforcement if our leaders had not supported these efforts.

I have met many law enforcement leaders from across the country that have embraced the use of social media by their departments and have taken it another step further and now use it themselves. I always saw a great benefit from a law enforcement executive connecting with their community through social media. However, I never really thought it was a necessity. I never thought of it as a must have. All of that changed yesterday.

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Social Media is No Place to Report Crime

In days gone by, the only way to call the police to report a crime was to use the telephone. This involved calls coming into a call box where a police officer was stationed. With the advent of radios, the police could be dispatched to a call from a vehicle or while walking a beat. They no longer had to hang around the call box. Then 9-1-1 revolutionized the emergency call by bringing caller information into the equation. Now, social media has provided another avenue to report crime to the police.

Unfortunately, social media is not really a good place for a citizen to report a crime. Social media is a great communication tool and certainly facilitates many conversations and interactions with the police. However, the reporting of crime via social media is not one of the conversations that should occur. Instead, citizens should always call 9-1-1 to report a crime.

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