Homeland Security Watch

News and analysis of critical issues in homeland security

June 17, 2014

A Smart Practice: How two California police departments use social media to engage with their communities

Filed under: Social Media — by Christopher Bellavita on June 17, 2014

I came across a presentation — below — describing how two police agencies in California’s Silicon Valley use social media.

Their strategy is not the run-of-the-mill advice to  “Get a facebook account and start tweeting.”

It is about a philosophy, instead of a program. It’s about selecting a voice, defining your engagement strategy, seeing social media as an ecosystem, conducting virtual ride-alongs, shaping how people make sense of in-progress events, rumor control, and more.

The presentation identifies what needs to happen for the strategy to succeed, what can go wrong, and how to anticipate and mitigate potential downsides.

The presentation was developed by Lt. Zach Perron (Palo Alto PD) and Capt. Chris Hsiung (Mountain View PD).  It probably works better when one of the officers is presenting the slides. But the slides also work on their own.

I consider what they propose as a smart practice (http://bit.ly/1i7335R) instead of a best practice.  Few agencies will be able to adopt all elements of the social media strategy, but every public safety agency should be able to take something away from the ideas in the presentation.

Here’s the presentation: (or go to this link). Use the on-screen arrow to advance the slides.

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