California Police Chief- Fall 2013 - Page 8

CPCA: Can you talk about some areas of law enforcement in which social media is not working? Le Veque: A few areas come to mind: Faux or veiled participation --- Some police agencies participate for the wrong reasons or because of pressure to begin a social media presence. When this happens, there is failure. It’s important to truly participate, because if an agency starts up and then has no follow through, it will probably have more negative impact than if the agency did not participate at all. Top management must buy into the concept, and decisionmakers must empower their people to speak on behalf of the agency on day-to-day matters. This does not replace the chief as the last word by any means, and when properly trained, social media representatives know when --- and when not --- to engage or speak on matters. Improper Personal Use --- Education is key. I think examples of negative use by personnel have been lessening this last year. There has been a great deal of coverage and I believe that officer awareness is growing as to the impact of their negative participation. Through best-practice education, the implementation of new policies and through continuing awareness campaigns, the negative aspects will continue to diminish. This is not different from “real life.” The problem will never disappear. CPCA: When it comes to social media, where is law enforcement headed? Le Veque: For starters, agency presence is continuing to increase. Leadership at such organizations as Cal Chiefs, IACP, CPOA and POST contributed greatly in this area in 2011. There has been an emphasis on creating training and providing best-practice information to agencies, and it is paying off. Also, mobile applications --- from personal use by officers in the field to community use by agency apps – is growing. The associated issue will be when individual officers use their personal hardware in investigations and when performing their jobs. There is little in the form of legal decisions on this so far. A smart defense attorney will certainly request all records and that may include personal information. Most courts will preclude the personal info, but there always is the chance of disclosure when police mix work and play. CPCA: What about video? Le Veque: Some agencies, like the Newport Beach Police Department, are already using YouTube to present crime prevention and community relations info. We will see an increase in the use of video to deliver news releases, too. Police agencies can save on personnel costs and create short news releases as opposed to having someone on hand to speak to multiple outlets. The Los Angeles Sheriff ’s Department is in the process of remodeling an office into a small studio just for this purpose. Law enforcement should remember it is on stage 24/7. YouTube has already shown how quickly and how many differing perspectives can appear on officer-related incidents. Look back at the tragic BART shooting ---- there were multiple recordings of the event. How about the Fullerton incident? From city cameras to bus and phone recordings, we are seeing different perspectives, different opinions, and very different takes on how quickly “news” spreads. The immediacy of information being shared via instant messaging, text messaging and smart phones is amazing. If law enforcement is listening and actively involved in situations, many times we will learn of events before our officers have even reported back via radio. Everyone wants to tell the world what they are seeing. A great example of this is the use of Twitter monitoring. Watching the Twitter feed on a particular topic or keyword can garner great information. I think law enforcement is realizing this, and the use of social media will grow. • Arcadia Lt. Tom Le Veque  | Behind The Badge