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Intelligence Led Policing Yardsticks: Staff Meetings That Lower Crime

So you are nearly ready to kick Intelligence Led Policing into high gear! Your data is right, your training is in place, your command structure and your officers are ready to go. So now what? The next step admittedly requires something that very few of us enjoy: meetings. Meetings are however integral part of Intelligence Led Policing. Strategic and tactical meetings are the most effective methods of disseminating “game plan” information throughout your department. Don’t think of these in the same terms that you think about your current meetings though. These meetings should have a completely different feel to them. Instead of being filled with facts and spreadsheets, these meetings should go way beyond simple numbers. They should answer the question “now what?” As in, “well that’s nice data and all, but now what?”

Let’s look at your staff meeting for instance. In general, most staff meetings are simply crime numbers and maybe a few maps. The meeting generally sounds like this, “we had five of these, 12 of those, blah blah blah,” on and on. Keep in mind I’m speaking from experience here. If I am poking fun at anyone, then I am poking at myself first and foremost. The very first staff meeting that I began with was built around the basic Comp Stat concept. While there is certainly nothing wrong with Comp Stat, the way we were utilizing the method, left us with PowerPoint slides filled with raw data — lacking the “now what?” element. Following the teachings of Intelligence Led Policing, we transformed our staff meeting from a series of reports based on raw numbers, to a fully interactive crime fighting meeting. We did not just look at and study our current crime trends, we compared those trends to historical patterns to assist us in determining the possibility of future patterns. I spoke earlier about strategic and tactical meetings and the importance of having both. Using what we have learned from Intelligence Led Policing, we were able to utilize our staff meeting for both long-term strategic planning as well as short-term tactical crime-fighting plans.

Productive Meetings Include More Than Raw Data

Let me explain what I mean. For starters, I transformed our PowerPoint staff meeting presentation to move from a list of numbers to included charts, satellite maps, heat maps, graphs, and time of day/day of week charts — visualizations for our crime data instead of just list of crimes. I also did not keep myself handcuffed to just the PowerPoint. While using PowerPoint was very important, especially when it came to record keeping, it’s was also key to move beyond simple slides and step into making our meeting more visually engaging and interactive.

intelligence led policing dashboard, crime analytics software

Incorporating real-time intelligence with custom visualizations into your meetings will move them from straight strategic to tactical.

The way I bridged that gap was by having a large drop down projector screen in the middle our meeting room, and then I had two flat screen televisions flanking each side of the projector screen. The flat screen televisions were connected directly to a laptop that I was controlling so that I could show live and historical data in real-time to my command staff – this was in conjunction with the PowerPoint presentation. A typical meeting would consist of reviewing the past month’s crime data – specifically what happened, where it happened, and when it happened. In most meetings, however, questions would arise in relation to crimes that might have a common thread, suspect, or geographic area. The best part is that as questions arose, we were able to transition the meeting on the fly from strategic to tactical; something that was only possible because of the live crime data feed coming from our analytics solution.

Deep Insights and Collaboration Lead to Arrests

I remember one time in particular, a lieutenant was giving a report about some burglaries in his zone.  He was telling the staff about the particular m.o. that his suspect displayed when a different lieutenant from another zone spoke up that he was having similar style burglaries.  At that point a captain had remembered some burglaries from years past that had the same style and mentioned a suspects name, he added that this suspect liked to walk to his crimes.  A quick check of the prison records showed that he had very recently made parole and was living at his mothers address.  I then centered my live map on the suspects mothers’ house and showed the burglaries in question in relation to that house. All of the burglaries in question were within walking distance of his mothers’ house.  Of course, at that point, our detectives took over and were able to close the case based on that information.

I have a few other stories like this to share. And I’m confident that when you move in this direction, you will too. I encourage you to begin the transformation of your department’s meetings with your command staff meeting, and then use that general template for your other meeting needs. Starting with your staff meetings is an excellent vehicle for instructing your command staff on this new Intelligence Led Policing style. It will also allow your command staff to become comfortable enough to conduct their own meetings using this much more efficient and effective style of crime-fighting.

I’d love to hear similar stories and field any questions you may have. Feel free to comment here and/or send me an email at

St. Louis PD Uses Social Media to Boost Transparency and Rapport Within the Community

As we discovered when putting together our Definitive Guide to Social Media Engagement for Law Enforcement, agencies across the nation are increasingly turning to social media to help increase the transparency of their agency and build a better rapport with their communities. Why? The connectivity of social media offers law enforcement agencies unprecedented direct access to openly communicate with and engage masses of citizens like never before. Yet despite social media providing an open venue for discussion that can involve/engage the community, we’re seeing some agencies struggling to use such platforms–often treating social media simply as another means to broadcast static information, rather than to respond to and engage the public. How then should a police department go about using social media to improving community rapport and transparency (you ask)?

Earlier this year St. Louis PD Chief offered a clue when he spoke on the afternoon radio show Hancock and Kelly, “[Citizens] have a right to know, and we have a responsibility to tell them about what we’re doing, what’s working, and what’s not working.”  Since his agency became active on social media in 2011, the St. Louis PD has been using Facebook, Twitter, and a Chief’s blog to both inform the community and also engage the community, openly addressing the public’s crime /safety problems/concerns through dialogue.

Humanizing the Agency-“What we’re doing”


New recruits visit children being treated at a pediatric specialty charity hospital

The PD uses Facebook and Twitter to inform the community about the usual–breaking news, crime alerts, agency updates , arrests, crime prevention tips–but also stories that share the agency’s perspective from an angle you may not often see on other media. On Facebook, the PD shares stories and events that detail agency operations but also reveal the dedication and heroism of officers on and off the job;  for example, a post exhibiting the PD recruits’ recent visit to a children’s charity hospital.

Dialogue/Responding to Public Concerns “Whats Working and What’s Not”

[In addition to sharing information about the agency], the St. Louis PD makes an additional effort to address and explain crime/public safety problems and how the PD is handling them on a strategic and tactical level. This is accomplished largely through PD Chief Sam Dotson’s ‘Chief’s Blog”, where he personally responds to concerns expressed by the public as well as public safety issues, major crimes and other issues. For example, the blog entry below informs a concerned public of a crime spike in a neighborhood and what the PD is doing to fix it.  The blog allows readers to provide feedback, in the way of comments, that contributes to the overall discussion between agency and community.


Sharing is Good, But Dialogue is Better

Sharing information may be a start to improving community relations but its not enough without the accompanying dialogue. [For instance, St. Louis’s blog fosters overall community discussion  yet they could converse with more individuals by responding to more posts on Facebook and Twitter.] Because of social media’s capacity for open conversation, public comments and posts will and do happen and agencies have only to gain by addressing crime problems, public concerns, inquiries and frustrations head-on. 

To learn more on how to leverage social media to improve the transparency of your agency or boost community engagement, download our Definitive Guide to Social Media Engagement for Law Enforcement.

Let us know what you think! Do you have a success story in boosting agency transparency? Tips for fellow agencies? Let us know! Use the comments section below to share your insights and best practices.

Law Enforcement to Community Communication – dialogue, not monologue

For many law enforcement agencies, when asked if they have a social media program, their answer will be something like, “yes, we have a Facebook page, and Twitter account.” A good start, but as a standalone, this doesn’t exactly define a program.

Many agencies struggle to gain traction once they launch an agency Facebook page. Take for example, the Niagara County Sheriff’s Office that was recently featured in the PublicEngines Definitive Guide to Social Media Engagement for Law Enforcement Agencies 2013. The agency launched its Facebook page, but after three years, only had about 200 Likes, and almost no engagement or interaction with the community. Almost by accident, the Agency went from 200 Likes to several hundreds when hurricane Sandy hit as people in the community were searching for credible sources about the storm and public safety issues.

We can learn from the spike in Likes and engagement Niagara experienced, and it can be done without the help of a hurricane!

The Guide to Social Media Engagement list six ideas for growing your audience and engaging with them:

  1. download The Definitive Guide to Social Media Engagement for Law Enforcement AgenciesHold an Launch Event. Many agencies have successfully hosted a social media launch event (Facebook) by tying into an existing community events. Another example was when the Virginia State Police Department launched its Facebook page on the anniversary of a community-known unsolved homicide.
  2. Obtain Publicity. Most agencies have good working relationship with local media. By issuing a news announcement & having news stories about the social media initiative, agencies can gain awareness, likes/followers, and begin the engagement process.
  3. Promote Social Media Profiles on Agency Website. In addition to making people aware the profiles exist, agencies can also ask questions on the website, and ask the community to provide comments on its social sites.
  4. Use Email to Promote Social Sites & Engage. From including links to social sites in email signatures, to direct outreach emails asking for Likes, or community-related questions, email can be a great way to communicate.
  5. Maintaining Engagement. By providing consistent and predicable information that is useful, actionable, compelling, and sharable with others, fans and followers will begin to anticipate and look forward to these posts. Engagement is sure to follow.
  6. Use CityConnect. All citizens to access all of the agencies social media and web CityConnectaccounts to citizens through their smart phones to make connecting and engagement easy, and always available. CityConnect is an agency-branded mobile app that does just that. From allowing people to deliver crime tips, to accessing CrimeReports, and even for emergency updates, there is no better way to connect with people today than through their smart phone.

The full Guide contains more details, and useful case examples. You can download it here.

Over 100 LEAs participate in a Global Tweet-along Tweet-athon March 22

Map of tweet-a-thon participants wordwide

Map of tweet-a-thon participants worldwide


Starting at 8 a.m. on March 22, law enforcement agencies around the  world connected via Twitter to participate in a 24-hour Tweet-a-thon  to bring attention to the use of social media by law enforcement. Throughout the day, more than 100 law enforcement agencies from the US, United Kingdom, Canada, Sweden, Iceland and Australia tweeted messages, photos and video of 911 calls being answered by officers on patrol using the hashtag #poltwt;  twitter fans were encouraged to submit questions as they followed along.


A tweet from a tweetalong hosted by Rapid City PD


Tweetalong: The Ride Along of the Digital Age

With the advent of social media the traditional [civilian] ride-along has gone digital. In a ride along, a civilian would spend a shift as a passenger in a police car on patrol observing the workday of an officer. With a tweet-along officers on patrol chronicle the crime fighting activities of their shift–responding to 911 calls, chasing fugitives, making arrests–by tweeting photos, video and other information in real-time for twitter fans to follow along.

In recent years, the tweetalong has become somewhat of a booming phenomenon among law enforcement as agencies increasingly recognize its potential in showing the public a side of law enforcement that they don’t often see.

“Anytime we have the chance to give the public a glimpse of how we do our jobs and the type of calls our officers respond to is a good thing. This Tweetalong will allow the LVMPD to connect with its community in an exciting, real time way while also providing education” said Las Vegas PD Sheriff Doug Gillespie.

By hosting tweetalongs, police departments like the Las Vegas PD help to improve their agency’s transparency and rapport within the community by sharing a personal and sometimes gritty on-the-scene perspective with the community. Tweetalongs also enable the community to engage with the agency in real-time by tweeting questions and comments to officers out on the beat.

Organizer Lauri Stevens, founder of LAWS Communications hopes [the] global Tweet-a-thon will bring greater awareness to law enforcement’s growing community outreach efforts through social media. “We hope it sends the message to community members that…they should use [social media] as another means of communicating with local authorities” she said.

Encouraging law enforcement use of social media

While twitter use and the ‘tweetalong’ is becoming a common practice for law enforcement agencies around the world, many agencies have yet to become active on the social media platform. According a recent survey by International Association of Chiefs of Police, just less than half of local law enforcement agencies are actively using twitter to engage the public.  Participants of the global tweet-a-thon, like the Middleton WI PD, are looking to change that.

“We hope our participation continues to positively influence the rapidly growing acknowledgement, acceptance and use of social media by public safety agencies around the world” -said Keith Cleasby, social media manager of Middleton WI PD.


To learn more about how your agency can use Twitter and other tools to maximize community engagement in the social media-verse we encourage you to download our “Definitive Guide to Social Media Engagement for Law Enforcement”

Humanizing Law Enforcement Using Social Media

Law enforcement agencies today have tools that allow them to better connect with their communities than any other time in history. Social media, in particular provides multiple benefits including, increasing awareness of police programs, creating two-way dialogue & enlisting community help in fighting crime, as well as the ability to become more transparent and humanizing the agencies staff. For this blog, I wanted to focus on the power of putting a face and person behind the badge.

Colorado Springs PD Facebook PageThe Colorado Springs Police Department (CSPD) in Colorado looked to use Facebook as a platform to connect with its community in a more personal way. A lot of the strategies have worked to build online connections with the department and the community it serves. For example, the agency’s Facebook page includes features such as messages from the chief, officer of the month, and a quote of the week. Feedback from the local community has been very positive, and its Facebook page has grown to become a powerful communications tool to share crime alerts, videos, and even post photos of wanted felons. The ability to connect with people on such a personal level wasn’t possible just a few short years ago, and more agencies should take advantage to create a more humanistic connection with the people they serve.

Another example demonstrates how a new police chief for the Brandon Police Service in Canada leveraged YouTube to deliver his vision for law enforcement. Below you can view his video, where he introduces himself, his experience, and some of the challenges Brandon faces, as well as his goals, and vision. The power of the video is that it is very personal, real and authentic. View it for yourself below.


Examples like this and more can be read in our special report, The Ultimate Guide to Social Media for Law Enforcement Agencies. Get it Now –