Law Enforcement Technology

NOV 2016

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Page 36 of 43 NOVEMBER 2016 LAW ENFORCEMENT TECHNOLOGY 37 mystery and apprehension that too often surrounds police by increasing transparency. Local residents can view law enforcement activities from any- where at a click of a button, staying up to date on important events and, better yet, truly realizing what it means to wear the badge. It means putting the commu- nity first, attending local events, visiting schools, going above and beyond even when off-duty. This aspect of a career in law enforcement can often be better depicted via photos, which are ideal for social media sites like Instagram. Departments can control their own message on social media and be their own advocate—an important benefit given that more and more people are getting their news from social sites. Additionally, social media as a com- munications tool has been proven to work very well, as noted in a recent report which found that of those sur- veyed by IACP in 2015, "83.5 percent of agencies state that social media has improved police-community relations in their jurisdiction." Tell your story It's exciting to see more departments actively using social as a way to effectively communicate with the communities they serve, leading to the rise of popular hashtags and campaigns like #LESM and #BehindTheBadge. In similar form is the LoJack #PASS (Protect and Serve Stories) campaign. It is designed to recog- nize members of law enforcement whose small, thoughtful good deeds are impact- ing and improving the communities they serve and protect. Whether law enforce- ment professionals are buying meals for the homeless, volunteering at a local char- ity fundraiser, or helping to fulfill a wish for a special olympian who wanted to be a sheriff for a day, #PASS seeks to highlight these positive stories, helping to garner the recognition they deserve. Working together as a police family Social media isn't just a way to interact with local officers who protect and serve—it's also proven helpful in communicating with different departments across state lines. A recent story comes from the West Melbourne Police Department in Florida, about a little boy with spina bifida named Matthew. "Matthew's story touched my heart personally," said Kathy Wilson, Sr. Administrative Assistant to the Chief of Police. "His grandmother responded to a [West Melbourne PD] Facebook post with, 'My grandson wants to be a police officer so bad I don't have the heart to tell him that it's not possible. Here is my reason why. He has spina bifida and is in a wheelchair. Will be for all his life. That doesn't stop him from wanting to be a police officer.' I knew immediately I wanted to do something for him and that's how this story begins." Wilson and the West Melbourne PD contacted hundreds of law enforce- ment agencies all over the country through social media and email, shar- ing Matthews's story and finding small ways to bring joy to his life. Social media was an essential tool in commu- nicating with agencies across state lines effectively and quickly. "I made it a personal crusade to contact as many police departments as I could to see if they would send Matthew a police patch or some other police memorabilia from their departments. The response was overwhelming. Patches, Challenge Coins, letters, cards, certificates, and other goodies started arriving at his home almost immediately. At last count, more than 100 agencies have responded with special deliveries for Matthew. The tremendous outpour- ing of support is not surprising, given the profession and 'family' I belong to," Wilson said. Acts of kindness like this aren't hard to come by; in fact we see them every day. Hashtags like #PASS are one more way to continue to highlight them and give the recognition that is truly deserved. The benefits of social media

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