Terms of Use for Your Government Facebook Page

Facebook Terms of Use ImageAs governmental entities moved into the digital age and began using social media, they pushed out content to their citizens in hopes of educating and informing the public about items of interest.  As this practice evolved, more and more agencies began allowing comments on some of these platforms like Facebook, on their blog page or even on their website.  Public comments have become common for most agencies that engage with their community.  In fact, it is a best practice taught by many social media experts. 

What happens when the comments are laced with profanity or hate speech?  What happens when the agencies platform is flooded with comments critical of the very agency allowing those comments? 

These are good questions that have not been fully answered yet by the courts.  However, there are some principles, guided by a ruling from the US Supreme Court, which shape this debate.

Continue reading

Traffic Problems? Get the Slow Down Cat!

Slow Down CatI know what you are thinking.  What in the world is he talking about?  Every community has its share of motorists disobeying traffic laws.  Speeding, running stop signs and disregarding traffic control devices seem to be the norm.  In Georgia, new police chiefs are required to attend New Police Chief School.  While attending the class, one of our instructors, a seasoned chief, told us that 50% of citizens will think we do too much traffic enforcement and 50% will think we don’t do enough.  I can now testify that the statement he made is true!

As a result, every police chief is constantly trying to find better ways to make the roads safer for motorists, cyclists and pedestrians.  We use targeted enforcement but when we leave, motorists soon return to their bad habits.  We use radar signs but after awhile, they seem to loose their effectiveness.  We educate our community, but it just doesn’t seem to make a difference.

Continue reading

Facebook Safety Check

Safety CheckYou may or may not have heard of Facebook Safety Check prior to the attacks in Paris. This feature was first available in 2014 and has been activated a number of times by Facebook for natural disasters. The first time Safety Check was used by Facebook was at the earthquake in Nepal. Since then it has been used several other times for natural disasters all over the world. However, the attack in Paris was the first time Facebook used it for an act of terrorism.

The Facebook Safety Check feature is not visible to users under normal conditions. Instead, it must be activated by Facebook. In case of a natural disaster, and now a widespread terrorist attack, Facebook detects users who have activated their location services for Facebook. In addition, they can detect location by the city in your profile and other factors such as the location of the Internet service you access. If you are in the affected area, you will receive a notice from Facebook asking if you are safe. If you are safe, simply click the button “I’m Safe.” Your friends and family will be able to see that you are safe. Follow this link to read more about this feature and see several screen shot examples.

Continue reading

The Boston Bombing Remembered

Chief DeveauxRecently, I had an opportunity to travel to the 2015 Police Innovations Conference in Cambridge, MA.  The organizers put together a great conference with some informative panels discussing cutting edge technology.  I even had the opportunity to participate in two panels; one about public comments on social media platforms and the other about body worn cameras.  However, one of the most interesting parts of the trip happened outside of the conference.

I had the good fortune to meet retired Chief Ed Deveau who recently retired from the Watertown Police Department.  Chief Deveau now works for one of the vendors at the conference and I had the opportunity to get to know him at a reception one night.  We swapped a lot of stories about our 30+ year careers.  Chief Deveau then shared the story of the Boston Bombing and specifically the details about the gun battle his officers engaged in with the Tsarnaev brothers four days after the bombing.  He shared the call he received in the middle of the night, his response and the heroic effort of his officers during the shooting as well as during the capture of Tamerlan.

Continue reading