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

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”

Using Social Media in Law Enforcement, a Guide

Most organizations over the past several years have been asking a lot of questions about using social media. For many, there’s a general feeling that their organization should be doing something. That’s a good start, and many stall out there, because of not knowing what to do.

Thankfully, now that organizations have been implementing various social media strategies for a few years, we now have the opportunity to learn from what others have done right, and of course what they’ve done wrong.

I’ve worked with a variety of companies over the years on developing and implementing download The Definitive Guide to Social Media Engagement for Law Enforcement Agenciesa social media strategy. I wondered how unique Law Enforcement would be in its approach to using social media, which is why I was excited to review The Definitive Guide to Social Media Engagement for Law Enforcement Agencies, published by PublicEngines. Below are a few things I’ve learned so far.

The Same Pitfalls

It makes sense to learn from The Guide that Law Enforcement Agencies face similar hurdles, challenges, and make the same mistakes as retailers, businesses, other government agencies, and even celebrities, when trying to use social media. The Guide outlines three common mistakes:

  1. The Set-it and Forget-it Agency. We’ve all seen examples of this when we visit a site or page, and the content is old – like months, or even over a year since the last post. In many ways, a neglected site, is worse than no site at all.
  2. The Spammer Agency. When I see a company that starts posting too much useless information, I imagine that someone said we need to post 14 times per day, and they purchased some software tool that allows them to pre-load hundreds of posts. I typically turn these alerts off, and it leaves me with a bad taste in my mouth.
  3. The Serial Experimenter Agency. In this instance, you can see there is no real plan in place – just ideas. While the agency is making attempts to do something it comes off as unorganized, confused, and uncontrolled. It can’t be maintained, and the audience goes away.

These are similar issues any organization faces, so it represents lessons we can learn from. On the flip side, there are some specific things that are unique to Law Enforcement that need to be considered in your planning.

Unique to Law Enforcement

In the Identify Your Goals and Objectives section of The Guide, I was thrilled to see specific examples that are unique to Law Enforcement. In my experience, setting goals and objectives can be extremely difficult because social media is so new, and everything moves so quickly. The examples can help to kick-start the process of designing a program that will work for your agency. The Guide lists goal examples of creating public awareness of the agency’s policing/safety efforts, creating greater transparency and more open dialogue, to encouraging citizens to help with crime stopper efforts through tips, and even to improve police services through greater collaboration.

For more information on these topics, I encourage you to download The Definitive Guide to Social Media Engagement for Law Enforcement Agencies here.

Feed a Family, Feed a Community

Photo by Matt Hagen via Flickr

Remember Bozeman? The Montana city with so much social media controversy? First, the town was called out all over the Web for demanding not only access to its employees’ social pages, but also their account passwords. Then, a Bozeman police officer resigned after public outcry over his poorly worded Facebook status update.

Bozeman police are again in the news, but not for social media. This time, the highlight is for an officer who went beyond his sworn duties to help a fellow human being—after he’d arrested him.

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Will Anti-Bullying Legislation Make a Difference?

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Cyberbullying has been a major theme in headlines over the past few months. The teen suicides of Long Island’s Alexis Pilkington and Massachusetts’ Phoebe Prince, as well as the bullying of California teenager Autumn Albin, have generated legislative action from California to New Hampshire.

Here is a brief look at what four states are doing to stop bullying.


In wake of Phoebe Prince’s death, the Boston Herald reported that both the state House and Senate passed anti-bullying bills in March. According to the article, both bills seek to “curtail bullying in schools and in cyberspace.”

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