“Good Sergeanting” and LESM

This blog series highlights some of the top Social Media Beat posts from the last couple years. For more information about IACP’s Center for Social Media visit the project webpage. This post was originally published on Thursday, November 12, 2015.

Guest Blogger: Dave Norris, Sergeant, San Mateo, California, Police Department

This blog is tuned to all levels of supervision and management, but focuses on the first level supervisors – those who have the valued responsibility of conducting shift briefings. I hope this is informative to you all – even if you are a veteran supervisor who, like me and others, started in this business by putting pencil to paper.

There is so much noise around us now from the media – and our resources for “teachable moments” are virtually immeasurable – conventional media, social media (mainstream AND on our personal SM streams), and aggregator sources (I get a daily snapshot from both PERF and PoliceOne, and IACP is rolling out a news service for members) – just to name a few. Another great source I rely upon is the email thread of my local Law Enforcement Social Media Group.

I encourage you as supervisors and leaders in your organization to take a few steps to make yourselves informed on law enforcement impacts from social media and use this information to keep your troops as open-eyed, informed, and professional as possible in this new world – which has eyes and ears open – especially towards us – like NEVER before….

Here are a few guidelines to get you started:

  1. Know your boundaries – policies, laws, constitutional protection.

Understand your department’s policies regarding both personal output by your personnel and your department’s public output. There are many common threads, but every department has a different perspective on how much is TOO much.

Know your jurisdiction’s laws and understand constitutional protections regarding civilians and their level of access to the various situations you and your personnel are in. There is a lot of latitude for “media,” (and “freedom of the press” now has a whole new meaning with hand-held media recording devices) but there is also a lot of authority granted you and your personnel to restrict access under certain conditions.

Keep in mind that often the best media documentation of your situation may be in the hands of the kid with the iPhone on your perimeter – and also know that you have very limited (or no) authority to take that evidence without consent, and will likely have to get it off YouTube or Instagram like anyone else!

  1. Do your homework.

Subscribe to some of the excellent police news aggregators out there, and get the hot news in our profession right to your inbox. Also take advantage of free searches for your agency and jurisdiction on services like Google Alerts. Be “in the loop.”

  1. Interesting is memorable – make this a discussion.

If you are staying abreast through the above services and email aggregators, I guarantee that you will have a regular flow of topics for discussion with your troops, on everything from officer safety to media relations. Also – and this is important – engage in conversation with your millennial generation officers, who may view the advent, philosophy, and impact of the Social Media Culture completely different from you and/or your senior agency leaders. This is an important perspective.

  1. Spread the love.

Share. The concept of “sharing” has a slightly different meaning and connotation. Sharing no longer means just “sharing” a toy as a kid, or “sharing” your sandwich with a friend – now its that little box appearing next to what you’re reading, with all the little icons for Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Blogger, WordPress… you get the idea. “Sharing” is what’s made that viral officer video from another agency the topic of your briefing discussion. Now it’s your turn to share what you and your team are talking about – in your agency, with your professional social contacts, and with your local Law Enforcement Social Media Group.

Good Sergeanting 1

Be Safe. Have Fun. Never Stop Learning.

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