How Law Enforcement Officers Can Use Social Networking Smartly
Social media has been accepted all over the world, and with its acceptance has come some unforeseen consequences. Many law enforcement officials actually use social media to fight crime and catch criminals. You may have read about criminals on social networks bragging about their exploits and subsequently being arrested for it. Social media, if nothing else, provides law enforcement officers with some insight into the criminal mind and into what people are thinking. It’s an invaluable tool that has never before been accessible.
Officers also have to be careful about how they use social media and how their own private information is spread around. They have to hold themselves up to a high standard of conduct, higher than those that they service. If they discuss a case on a blog or say something inappropriate, it can come back to hurt them later.
We are going to discuss how law enforcement officers can improve their online reputations and ensure that their image online stays positive.
Be Careful about How You Use Facebook
Facebook has become the biggest social media site in the world, boasting over 700 million users. However, just because everyone uses it, that doesn’t mean you can do or say anything you like on there, especially if you are a police officer.
Facebook is a generally open social community. No matter what you post on there and no matter how you try to make it private, someone is going to see it. You have to be careful about what you post and who is able to see it. You want to watch for any content that could reflect negatively on you.
There are actually people watching Facebook for proof of misconduct from officers. This can be beneficial to the community, thanks to the way it regulates bad behaviour, as police corruption needs to be dealt with swiftly and decisively. That also means that any decent police officers who make a mistake on Facebook will probably regret it.
Don’t Discuss Case Details
Police officers are not allowed to discuss ongoing investigations with the public, in most cases. You need to watch what you say and who to say it to, realizing that the internet is not the right place to discuss case matters. Law enforcement officers need to keep cases to the courtroom.
Defence attorneys will be looking through social networks and other online sources for information that can help their case. Your actions and slipups can mean that they will be given an unfair advantage in court. That could put you in trouble, if someone were to find out about it. Be sure to keep all conversions about work relegated to the appropriate channels and locations.
Positively Impact the Community with Your Social Media Presence
There are certain expectations people have when it comes to police officers and the way they conduct themselves. You can use your status as an officer to promote good behaviour and to positively influence those in your own community.
Your Facebook profile should not be used to keep a life of vigilantism under wraps, but you can use your crime-fighting expertise to the benefit of the community just through your access to social media profiles.
Many police officers and police departments are creating social media pages, specifically fan pages, to keep people abreast of what efforts they are making to help the community and to alert people to any criminal behaviour that might affect them. You may be able to get involved with these efforts and make an impact in your community. Social media allows you a way to engage thoughtfully and personally with those around you, and you should be making use of it.