California Police Chief- Fall 2013 CPCA_2019_Spring Magazine- FINAL - Page 28

THE CASE FOR LAW ENFORCEMENT LEADERS TO BE PRESENT ONLINE Best Practices For Chiefs and Executive Managers With Social Media Profiles By Captain Chris Hsiung, Mountain View PD The majority of police departments in the United States now have some sort of presence on platforms like Facebook, Twitter, or Nextdoor; and that’s a good thing. When used correctly and effectively, departments big and small can successfully manage critical incidents by posting timely information and dispelling rumors. They can also build a narrative that negates national assumptions around why we elect to go into a profession that’s sole mission is to protect and serve. The rise of law enforcement agencies on social media has also brought about many command staff and chiefs who have created their own professionally affiliated social media accounts. This is a positive shift for our industry as it fosters communication and engagement with the public on a more personal level and allows people to get to know the faces behind the badge. Even more important, being present on social media as a law enforcement leader allows you to consistently message the values that serve as a foundation to your leadership brand and style. Now, more than ever, our communities and our country need to hear the messaging and talking points you already deliver at community events, academy graduations, and internally to your staff; only now, with social media you’re able to magnify this message to a broader community of residents and businesses you serve (who are already effectively using social platforms). Our collective absence on social media 28 California Police Chief | as law enforcement leaders has allowed the narrative to be told by others. This has to change. We all understand the importance of effectively telling our stories to change inaccurate perceptions about policing. Having law enforcement leaders present and willing to engage on social media help towards that goal. It’s my belief that now, more than ever, law enforcement leaders need to be seen and heard online, in addition to everything we do in person in the community. So how do we do this right? Some have “official” social media accounts bearing profile photos in uniform, while others have “non-professional” accounts with profile biographies that say something similar to, “tweets and opinions are my own and don’t reflect my agency…” Those with professional accounts know—or should know—to stay away from posting about certain topics like politics, personal opinions, or religion. Those with non-professional