Focusing on evolution rather than revolution in social media and law enforcement

There is a natural tendency to often view new technology as revolutionary, completely changing the game, and wiping away everything that came before it.

While social media practices and technology seem to change at a rapid pace, at the core is community building and connection – things that have existed long before any social media as we know it today.

Though it may seem we are experiencing a social media revolution, examining social media through an evolutionary lens helps to remind law enforcement there is great opportunity to build upon the competencies of the past through the tools at hand today.

Lieutenant Timothy Henton, serving in the El Cajon, California Police Department, recently wrote an the article “Interactive Social Media: The Value for Law Enforcement” in the FBI Law Enforcement Bulletin and noted how law enforcement has been evolving with communication tools since the modern era of policing dating back to the 1820s.

Henton advocates for law enforcement to leverage social media for enhancing community engagement. He notes examples where law enforcement is able to get information more quickly to the public without being filtered by the press, strengthening direct communication between the general public and law enforcement.

There is no doubt that the field of law enforcement has evolved with new communication technologies in the past and will continue to do so with the social media tools available today.

It is time now for the next steps in evolution to take place, moving from simply using social media, to using it well. This requires greater understanding of the behaviors and processes that go into the social media strategies of any given law enforcement agency. It requires basing decisions on objective data.

What information should be posted? How often should a law enforcement agency post to social media outlets? What is “engagement” and how can this be measured? Are the social media communication processes the same or different for rural community and major metropolitan area law enforcement agencies?

Kosovich Media Group has specialized technology-based assessment tools to provide definitive benchmarking data and customized consulting services that enable law enforcement agencies to continue the social media evolution to strengthen community.

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