Sheriff: Tech, social media change law enforcement approaches
As a continuation in the sharing of the recent results of the president’s Task Force on 21st Century Policing, the third pillar “Technology & Social Media” is the topic of this article.
While a great deal of the study and subsequent recommendations referred to technology, this pillar focuses on how we in law enforcement use technology to investigate crimes as well as to better communicate with those we serve.
Over the years we have seen our communities evolve in how technology is used. There are very few middle-school-aged children who do not either possess a smart phone, or smart tablet. These tools are amazing when put to good use; however, these tools have the potential for great damage when used inappropriately.
Although law enforcement continues to investigate the same general crimes such as Disorderly Conduct, Harassment, Theft, or Fraud, the perpetration of these crimes by use of technology has added a new dimension to how we investigate them. In order to effectively investigate these crimes as well as many others we too must rely on the latest technology.
The emphasis behind this pillar in relation to technology is how law enforcement uses the latest gadgets and the need to preserve the constitutional rights of our citizens. Just as in any piece of evidence, these new forms of records must be properly handled and preserved. The creation of effective policy and infrastructure to facilitate this is essential to success.
The other component to this pillar is the use of social media by local law enforcement. As I stated in an earlier article, we in law enforcement must reflect the changes in our communities. The days of relying solely on daily or weekly news updates are history. We live in a rapidly changing world where news is expected on an instant basis.
While we in law enforcement have always relied on our colleagues in the news agencies to disseminate news of recent events, we are now finding ourselves having to reach out directly to our communities. The almost immediate demand for information can put law enforcement at odds with the very people they serve, as there are times when the details of the events still unfolding require us to withhold certain information. Sometimes this is out of respect for family members of a victim involved in a crash, or out of necessity to effectively conclude an investigation.
The essential component to the use of social media and the rate at which news is now expected is that law enforcement needs to maintain a willingness to share what it can when it can. From the community’s perspective it is necessary to understand the delicate nature of what we do and that our job is not to fuel speculation through the information we provide, but rather to provide clear factual information of the incidents we respond to and investigate.
To this point, I would ask that people visit our Facebook site as well as our website and provide us with feedback on how we can improve our presence in the social media world.
This article originally appeared on Green Bay Press Gazette: Sheriff: Tech, social media change law enforcement approaches