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Connect with Your Citizens Anywhere They Want - CityConnect: New Mobile App for Law Enforcement

Balancing Transparency and Citizen Safety


Photo by WEBN-TV via Flickr

Last Sunday evening, officers were dispatched to investigate a call of an armed subject. When Aurora Police Department officers arrived on the scene, they concluded that is was domestic-related and subsequently surrounded the residence where it was purported that an armed male was held up.

More than a dozen police officers were present. They surrounded the residence, along with several other houses in the immediate vicinity. Officers heard a single gunshot ring out and immediately entered the home where they located a male with a self-inflicted gunshot wound.

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Law Enforcement and Social Media: Mapping Your 10% on Twitter

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I recently came across this infographic on Mashable (pictured at right). Every few months or so, I see a graphic like this that illustrates how big or fast a particular social network has grown and who is using it the most. This graphic, after charting users and tweets over time, clearly estimates that Twitter only reaches about 10% of internet users.

At first I found this a bit disheartening—“You mean I’m only reaching 10% of my potential audience by using Twitter?!?!” If you’re a law enforcement agency using Twitter to broadcast important messages to the community, you might feel the same way. However, if you look deeper, you’ll see what your 10% is actually made of.

The biggest age group you are reaching is the 18-35 year-olds—the most tech-savvy and forward-thinking age group—followed closely by the 35-50 year olds—the mainstays of your community. Not only that, but you are more likely to be reaching college-educated adults with children—the group that simultaneously values your information most and is educated enough to know what to do with it.

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Will Facebook Replace Your Department’s Website?


Photo by City of Newton, NC via Flickr

Chris Vein, CIO for the city of San Francisco, recently talked at the California CIO Academy and offered an interesting and compelling argument for reorganizing the way that local governments communicate with the public:

We’re seeing a fundamental shift in the way services are being delivered. We’re looking at perhaps the end of a Web site for the city and county of San Francisco. I’m being overly dramatic, but Web sites may no longer be the primary way you get your information. . . . For a certain demographic, Facebook is the only way for entering into a conversation with the rest of the world. They rely on it for their e-mail and other services. . . . On the city Facebook page, we have enabled all of the services that are available on our Web site. . . . For instance, you can pay your parking ticket on the city Facebook site. We‘re looking at this as just another portal into the city. It’s an experiment.

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Online Crime Mapping Could Stem Effects of Negative PR for NYPD

Over the weekend, two criminologists released findings from a study alleging that a number of retired NYPD officers and commanders witnessed or felt pressure to underreport crimes in order to appear as if crime was falling more dramatically than it was.

An allegation like this can be very damaging to a department like the NYPD that has worked hard for the last 20 years to turn crime around in their city, lowering crime rates, and ferreting out corruption in the police force. It can also leave members of the community disenfranchised, losing faith in a department that they had come to trust and rely on.

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Beyond Twitter and Facebook: Leveraging Other Social Media Tools at Your Department

Social media in law enforcement is a hot topic right now and a growing trend across all modern police agencies in the US, Canada, and Europe. More and more departments are setting up Facebook pages, creating Twitter accounts, and designing their own MySpace profiles. But, often, the discussion stops there: start sending Tweets, get Facebook friends, and your good, right? You have now reached out to the public and they are listening, right?

In some cases, yes. There are a number of law enforcement agencies who really “get” social media and the power it has to engage citizens. They use their department’s social networks to their fullest advantage. There are others who send a few tweets and then give up. But no matter how or what you use, the top three most robust tools for citizen interaction—Facebook, Twitter, and MySpace—are not the only sites that offer citizen interaction online.

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