Law enforcement agencies have long understood the value of social media as a public relations tool, but many have begun to recognize its potential for investigating crime and managing large gatherings of people.
A new guide published by the non-profit Police Executive Research Forum provides insights and tips for departments looking to do more than public relations outreach with their Twitter and Facebook feeds.
The guide advises departments to “not be afraid to take calculated risks” in disseminating certain information to the public in real-time.
“The Toronto Police Service and other departments have demonstrated that social media can be used for many purposes, from crime prevention and community policing to intelligence and criminal investigations,” the report's authors wrote. “It is not merely a function of a police department's public information unit.”
But the report warns that police should be careful to identify the “right people” to handle social media. Departments should look for not just those with good writing and communication skills, but those who understand the medium's potential value.
Read the report HERE.