Policy Development: Final

Law Enforcement Organizations are facing a tremendous problem with social media. On one hand, social media such as Facebook, My Space, and Twitter can be extremely useful for effective and efficient communication. On the other hand, Law Enforcement Executives are constantly facing situations in which employee misconduct is occurring through social media. Police Officers are accessing social media from their workstations and patrol cars during their shifts. Police Officers are posting information that is unbecoming for an officer as well as degrading and disrespectful to the profession. Police Unions and Police Officer Organizations such as the Fraternal Order of Police and the PBA are opposed to departmental policies that infringe on police officers’ constitutional rights. How do law enforcement organizations regulate the use of social media? Just about every major law enforcement organization has a Facebook account associated with the organization’s website. Therefore, should law enforcement organizations regulate individual officer’s social media activity?As the policy manager for your law enforcement organization, please research the best practices related to the regulation of police officers use of social media and develop a department policy. This research should include interviews with your local law enforcement leaders to determine how they are addressing this issue. In addition, please read the “Social Media” study conducted by the International Association of Chiefs of Police; it can be found in the Reading & Study folder of Module/Week 8.You must have at least 5 pages not including your title page. Comments of the professor: Your first section that outlines best practices and uses for social media is very good. Your last paragraph includes information that would be put into your draft policy. Make sure you have a draft policy as well. It should include specific prohibitions and penalties as well as types of social media that would be included. Attached is the 1st part of the assignment.
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Engaging the Public: Social Media Use Policy
Joe Ramsey
Liberty University
26 November 2017
Engaging the Public: Social Media Use Policy: Introduction
The policy paper addresses the question of social media and law enforcement. Not the general
question of how corporeal law enforcement agencies interact with the macrocosm of society; but how
the individual policeman or woman should conduct themselves while on social media in the capacity of
an officer. The Internet is the most common channel of mass communication in the twenty-first
century. It is everywhere, and it is a useful tool for getting messages across. In the United States alone,
the Internet penetration in 2016 stood at 88.5%. Those are 286, 942, 362 people that actively use the
Internet on a regular basis (ITU, ITU, UNPD, 2017). It is a critical mass. People use social media to
talk about everything. Entertainment, news, and commerce are all activities that one can go to a social
media platform to do. For instance, professionals that are on social media use ‘Linked in.’ Shared
credentials help in networking. People share audio-visual content on sites like Instagram and the
ubiquitous Facebook. Even communication applications like WhatsApp have groups where groups of
individuals share information of any kind. The primary utility of this technology is that ability to
reproduce information infinitesimally with minimal resources.
Law enforcement and social media
With that background in mind, it is only logical to expect that law enforcement has a presence
on the internet. Police officers represent the law to the public. Our actions influence the public’s
opinion of the law, and ultimately, their subservience to the same law that we set out to enforce. The
following principles are central to sustainable social media use among police officers.
Responsibility
Reasonableness
Foresight
Pre-meditated Themes
Applying the Principles in law enforcement: Expectations
It is essential that the individuals in charge of a function such as this understand that the social
media feature of police work is only as valuable as it is brief. Police departments need the Internet
and social media to reach the most substantial numbers of people within the shortest time spans. For
instance, a traffic department may send alerts over Twitter to Facebook to let drivers know where the
traffic flows are lighter than when there are no alerts. It helps to balance traffic flows and reduce the
severity of jams in urban cities and their typically overloaded roads at rush hour. The nature of this
form of mass communication is formal.
Break down such text alerts to the fewest possible impersonal characters. Social media users
typically seek to express themselves differently. Need to be unique when disseminating news of such a
character is uncalled for at best. Therefore, Officers in charge of traffic updates ought not to be joking
about situations when disseminating new. It is thus unprofessional to say, “Get off the interstate at the
third exit if you wanna be home this year.” Instead, it is prudent to say, “Interstate 96 gridlocked after
the third exit. Accident. Use alternative routes.” The former instance shows a lackluster police response
to an urgent crisis. Very little info has been passed. Brevity, concision, and helpfulness should guide all
alerts from police departments.
The substance of every communication on social media must reflect the values of the institution
of the police. There are other officers that use the Internet to engage with the public. Mostly, it is
senior officers in the police that have Twitter and Facebook accounts. These officers use their Twitter
handles for public relations. It is essential that every officer has the consented or normative mandate to
use social media in the name of the entire police force to do so responsibly. The only variations on the
tonal propensities depend on the context of conveying information.
Unless the officer is using social media to achieve some sanctioned mandate of the police
department, they should desist from using it while on duty. There are those officers in ranks that do
not afford them direct interaction with the public in an official capacity. The critical thing to note and
remember is that the policy directive does not tell everyone to be a faceless police officer that only
exists on social media. The must be a distinction between the conduct of an officer on social media and
the same person outside the confines of official police business. The private individual is entitled to all
the freedoms that are set out in the Constitutional Amendments. But then the expression of a police
officer is not individualistic. It is perceived as the collective apathy of the entire organization of the
police towards the citizens of the country.
Maintain protocol on all interactions carried out or recorded on social media. Community
outreach programs and policing initiative rely on the image that the police officers in that particular
jurisdiction portray. Police officers that use social media while still associating themselves with force
demean those efforts. For instance, it is detrimental to an outreach program if an officer films another
forcefully (and hopefully legally) subduing a citizen during an arrest. Such a clip would go viral, but
then it is very likely that it will antagonize the public and the officer in that jurisdiction. The instruction
in this principle is that every officer in this jurisdiction should keep in mind that their actions do not
just reflect on their personal dispositions, but on the entire profession as well. Police officers are the
personification of the law. There is a lot of historical antagonism; tensions, which the present advances
in ICT, make more obvious through social media. Inter-class disparities based on race and economic
positions are made worse by broadcasted ignominy by police officers. Therefore, maintaining protocol
(thematic protocol, not necessarily word for word compliance since social media exists to accentuate
the individuality of its users) is paramount to ensuring that we, the police, do not inflame an already
socially fractured society further.
Align the exposure to social media to the broader agenda whenever an enforcer goes onto or is
recorded on social media. There are instances where it is unavoidable to go on social media. For
example, a junior officer may go to a school to talk to children on a career day. It is okay to put such
information on social media daily. Even though the message may not strictly orient itself with the
objectives of the jurisdiction, it does not derogate from them. The principle holds true for all levels of
officers. The problem that instigated the drafting of this policy paper in the first place is misbehavior of
junior officers that do not feel an attachment to their calling as protectors of the social contract in the
same way that the senior officers do.
Concluding reflections
The crux of this policy paper is to encourage reasonable behavior in policemen and women that use
social media. There are three prongs to this position. Avoid using social media when on active duty.
The only reason that officers should be online when in their official capacities is to discharge official
duties. These include, but are not limited to: traffic updates, mass notices, official public relations
exercises, and civic engagement.
Secondly, if an individual finds that they need to use social media for any official or informal business
in an official capacity, it is paramount that they align their message with the jurisdiction’s values since
police represent the sovereign.
Separate the individual from the sovereign’s representative (on-duty) police officer. They are two
distinct persons that can have different perspectives, the former of which can sabotage the performance
of the latter’s role.
References
ITU, ITU, UNPD. (2017). U.S. Internet Users. United States Internet Users. Retrieved 23 November
2017, from http://www.internetlivestats.com/internet-users/us/
Kim, K., Oglesby -Neal, A., & Mohr, E. (2016). RESEARCH REPORT 2016 Law Enforcement Use
of Social Media Survey (pp. 4-11). A Joint Publication by the International
Association of
Chiefs of Police and the Urban Institute. Retrieved from
http://www.theiacp.org/Portals/0/documents/pdfs/2016-law-enforcement-use-of-social-mediasurvey.pdf

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