At 12:30am on Saturday in Dallas, Texas, the sound of gunfire shattered the quiet night as a gunman opened fire on the Dallas Police Department Headquarters. Although a surprising act, it is not unheard of as gunmen have attacked police officers at their departments across the country on several occasions. Check out this video from an attack on police officers with the Detroit Police Department in 2011.
Fortunately, no officers with the Dallas Police Department were injured. Of course that wasn’t because the suspect didn’t try to kill them. After all the suspect arrived in an armored van with gun ports and was heavily armed with explosive devices and firearms. The entire event lasted for over 12 hours and ended at 12:50pm with an announcement that the suspect was dead.
The proliferation of social media has resulted in a complete transformation in the way many police departments communicate with their communities. Large and small departments across the country have embraced the use of social media as a way to build community trust and demonstrate transparency. As much as social media has benefited law enforcement, there has also been a downside.
Members of the public are armed with smartphones and are prolific users of social media on a daily basis. They are driving, walking and interacting with police officers on a daily basis. Unfortunately, some police officers do things occasionally that are less than professional. When that happens, there is a good chance that someone is there to record it for posterity. Usually, the indiscretion shows up on social media.
Ok. Here are some of the top #LESM tweets for this week. I hope you enjoy!
Sometimes, there just doesn’t seem to be enough time in the day to keep up with all of the law enforcement social media posts out there. I have pulled together six good ones from this past week I hope you find helpful.
The week of May 11-15, 2015, was National Police Week. A time set aside by President Kennedy and established by a joint resolution of Congress in 1962 to remember those peace officers who have made the ultimate sacrifice and to celebrate the few and brave members of our society who have dedicated their lives in service to their fellow man.
The news lately hasn’t been very good. Every day brings a new controversy with the police squarely in the middle. A questionable use of force, a controversial arrest or an unfortunate death seems to be the rule. Lately, several uses of force have resulted in widespread riots in various communities and police officers being arrested. How can we address these widespread issues locally? The answer is by demonstrating leadership.
Leadership matters. Many of these incidents share one thing in common; a lack of leadership. In many cases, a lack of leadership on the part of the political leaders and in some cases a lack of leadership on the part of the police department. No matter the situation, leadership does matter.
Tim Burrows and I recently traveled to Georgia, not the state but the country, for the Department of State, Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement (INL) program to provide media relations and social media training for the Georgian Police. We conducted some preliminary research and arrived prepared to share our experiences and offer our insight into ways to improve their relationship with the media and how to use social media more effectively.
This was my second trip to Georgia and we arrived a little tired from the long trip but excited about the opportunity. Our hotel was in the capital of Tbilisi located about 30 minutes from the Georgia Police Academy, where we conducted our training.
According to a 2014 survey completed by the International Association of Chiefs of Police (IACP), over 95% of agencies that responded to the survey say they use social media. This percentage has increased significantly since the beginning of the survey several years ago. However, only 71% of departments say they have a social media policy. In 2010, the year of the first social media survey, this gap was even wider. At that time, only 35.2% of departments had a social media policy. Although the percentage of departments that have a social media policy has risen dramatically, one question still remains: Do the departments that have a social media policy have a good one?
This can be a difficult question to answer. There are many law enforcement agencies with good social media policies. Although good social media policies vary in length and content, there are at least three parts that should be in every policy.
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/
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.