One of the speakers I listened to was Mike Parker from the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Office. Mike spoke to using social media to get his agency's message to not only the citizens they serve, but also to the traditional news media in his community.
This idea of using social media to reach traditional media was a thought that I had also heard from other conference attendees. Not only does an agency's use of social media make it more likely that their story is going to be noticed by traditional media, but the use of social media makes it easier to manage all the competing news media requests.
Anne Longley from the Vancouver Canada Police spoke to how Vancouver Police used social media to help manage a recent hockey riot in their city. They were able to get information out to the public faster by integrating social media into their command post operations.
Mark Payne the Superintendent of the West Midlands Police in the UK hit it out of the park with his presentation. He had so many quotable bits from his presentation and a great bunch of wisdom regarding the use of social media by law enforcement.
The West Midlands Police Force in the UK encourages their officers to use social media. This contrasts with some agencies that are scared of social media.
Here are some of the best bits from Mark's presentation. (My iPad battery died towards the end of his presentation so I was trying to get some of these quotes down on my iPhone. Hopefully, they are as near to verbatim as possible. If they aren't exact, please forgive me.)
"Police leaders have to be brave enough to allow the use of social media by their officers. If you can trust them with a gun, you can trust them with Twitter."
"90/10 Rule - When using social media 90% of the time you'll get things right, the other 10% you just have to accept."
"Don't shut down social media during a crisis. People now expect and rely on social media. It can be used for good."
"You've got to learn to use social media when you don't have bricks flying at your head. Practice with social media before there is a crisis"
As I live tweeted the conference and especially Mark's presentation I was struck by how many folks who stated that not only was Mark's force forward thinking about the use of social media, but many of the other police forces in the UK also were as forward thinking as the West Midlands Police.
I attribute this to the very community oriented policing approach practiced by UK police. I believe that using social media to communicate and connect with the citizens you serve is vitally important and is probably the most promising part of the police use of social media.
Is your agency using social media as part of a community policing partnership with the citizens you serve? If not, why not?