Law Enforcement has embraced several social media platforms in recent years as several administrators have quickly discovered how beneficial they are. Social media has increased opportunities to communicate directly with the community and allowed the agency to release messages that cannot be construed by outside sources. Recently, Twitter unveiled a new (barely a month old) video live-streaming application called Periscope. Periscope has quickly become a conversation piece among those in the law enforcement social media business.
Upon my discovery of Periscope, I immediately became intrigued with the technology and started conducting research. I decided to give it a try. I logged in and was able to enjoy my first “broadcast”. If you have not heard of Periscope, here is a quick rundown on what the application offers. Periscope is a video live-streaming application (app) which allows users to instantly broadcast to followers or whomever is interested in watching live broadcasts. The app has become very popular with celebrities, politicians, and the media. I quickly found that a popular usage was among local newscasters whom are broadcasting a “behind-the-scenes” look at their local news.
Keeping it positive!
So, you may be asking, “what would the pros of adopting a live-streaming app for your law enforcement agency?” After careful consideration and personal research for my agency, I determined that Periscope could be used as a great showcase tool. For instance, it could be used as a “behind the scenes” tour similar to virtual ride-a-long, currently being used among several agencies on Twitter and Facebook. In addition, could be used to include live broadcasts from community events like Coffee with a Cop, National Night Out, or other fundraising events that you want to advertise. It is also a great way to give sneak peeks to the community of ceremonies such as: a Citizen Police Academy, Youth Police Academy, or even new officer induction ceremony. These are just a few ideas to engage the community in a way in which the viewers can be a part of these events who might have never been able to participate otherwise.
Other things to keep in mind to avoid unnecessary embarrassment…
If your agency is involved in social media, I am sure you already know that there is always a chance of those embarrassing social uh-ohs or missed opportunities. With that being said, it is very important to do your best to always be cautiously aware of your surroundings during live broadcasts. For example, while conducting research I witnessed a news anchor standing by during a commercial break and you could hear co-workers sharing their individual opinions about social media followers. Unfortunately, it wasn’t about how wonderful they were! Remember, this is LIVE people!
Personally, I would suggest that any agency considering a live virtual ride-a-long be cautious due to privacy concerns and tactics. Again, keep in mind what you are actually broadcasting and what can be revealed by simply showing a traffic stop, service call, or crime in progress. It’s always easy to just say “we just won’t use a live-streaming app within our social media strategy”. You have to admit that embracing social media can been extremely important for community outreach in this age of information!
Law Enforcement has to be aggressive in being progressive!
In my experience as a patrol officer and corporal in Community Affairs, I have found it best to always approach any new social media program by conducting adequate research, asking questions of agencies that already use the particular program, and determining how it can best be utilized to enhance our agency. Other questions to keep in mind, “Does it promote continuity within the department? Does it assist in raising morale within the agency or improve the agency’s relationship within community? Does it provide a safe and effective platform to engage the community?”
Law Enforcement has to be progressive in giving their audiences opportunities to approach and ask those important questions. It is also important that the community view your officers within the agency as people so they can better understand why they do what they do.