Posts Tagged ‘community relations’

Now available: 3 free model policies for social networking support

Wednesday, May 12th, 2010

Our 2-day on-site training devotes a fair amount of time to policy issues: investigative ethics applied online, undercover work, deconfliction, and employee stress management. However, while we talked about the need for policy, we didn’t have a model to offer.

Well, now we do! In the “White Papers” section of our Web site, you’ll now find three separate model policies: social networking investigations, official agency communication, and employee off-duty use.

Why 3 policies?

Law enforcement presence online isn’t just about gathering evidence. It’s also about ensuring that employees represent themselves and their agencies as professionals at all times (including not conducting investigations via their personal accounts). Also, just as agencies simultaneously conduct investigations and community relations in their communities, they should at least consider doing the same online.

The three policies complement each other, and as Todd is quoted in our press release, they’re meant to minimize the risk and maximize the reward of an online presence. They also fill a gap: while many policies are available from private companies, few are published by law enforcement agencies.

What the policies cover

The “Investigative Use of Social Networking” policy provides for:

  • Professional online conduct
  • Investigation preparation
  • Undercover work
  • Legal issues
  • Employee stress management

The “Agency Official Use of Social Networking” policy discusses:

  • Social media tools
  • Strategy for use
  • Communicating on the agency’s behalf
  • Restrictions on use
  • Handling requests from media and general public

The “Employee Off-Duty Use of Social Networking” policy includes:

  • Employee self-identification as a police officer
  • Confidential and sensitive information
  • Legal requirements
  • Disciplinary action

Because these are model policies, be sure to run them through administrators and department or other legal staff before you implement them, as state or jurisdictional laws may need to be specifically addressed.

Who will benefit?

We timed these policies’ release during the week of the ICAC Conference in Jacksonville, FL, where Todd is exhibiting. Now, we know ICAC investigators are well-versed in online investigation and thus policy – but we also know that their investigations can take them into jurisdictions where other detectives are not familiar with online work, undercover or otherwise.

So whether you’re an investigator whose agency needs social networking policies, or you know of investigators who do, please feel free to pass these along. You can refer others to the policy page using this address:

http://tinyurl.com/verepolicies

And if you have any questions, please let us know at info (at) veresoftware (dot) com !

Podcast: Todd talks social media, online investigations

Monday, November 30th, 2009

Canada-based podcasting service provider The Daily Splice recently started its own podcast: Law Enforcement 2.0, in which marketer Mike Waraich interviews individuals who are involved with encouraging police departments to “join the conversation” online.

Social media is, of course, beginning to figure into much more than conversation: it’s playing a role in everything from online crime to police recruiting to intelligence. Because all of this information must be verifiable, police need a standard methodology to collect it.

Which is why Mike invited Todd on the show a few weeks ago. For just about half an hour, the two discussed the following:

Defining online investigation in terms of standard methodology.

Would online investigation be less “scary” if the people conducting it knew they could do it without their veracity being called into question? Standardized process counts for a lot, so being able to date/time stamp, “digitally fingerprint” (hash), and log Internet evidence in the same way other forms of evidence are authenticated can make investigators’ jobs a lot easier.

Social media as a “neighborhood.”

Most everyone under 30 (and many over 30) are, in some ways, members of this online space. Just as in a real-world neighborhood, the number of “residents” = number of potential victims. And crimes are being committed, not just on the Web, but in other areas of the Internet which are their own communities. (Think chat rooms, instant messaging and Usenet.)

Whether law enforcement can coexist with community relations.

As long as law enforcement is an active participant in the online community, it cannot be misconstrued as “Big Brother” watching. Instead, it brings community policing concepts to the Web: like a park in a bad section of town, it will stay “bad” unless law officers go there, partner with people who live there to clean it up.

Reputation management.

What people post on the Web is there forever. Some law enforcement officers need to be made cognizant of this fact. Employers look at people’s social media profiles not just to make hiring decisions, but also to ensure their employees are maintaining the standard expected of them.

Part of maintaining that standard is not to avoid parts of the neighborhood which are not well understood or liked. Investigators who do need to understand that the “conversation” goes on without them. Not to be there for it risks missing valuable intelligence and other information.

In other words, as Todd put it, “You may not want to go into a bad neighborhood because you know bad things can happen, but you still need to be there.”

Understanding the neighborhood.

Just as a good cop takes time to learn the landscape and culture of the neighborhood s/he is responsible for, a good Internet investigator takes time to understand where people are online–and where they are moving, what they are talking about, what they are doing.

With hundreds of social sites, this can be hard to figure out much less monitor. But the more investigators learn, the more they can make online investigation part of their everyday work lives, the more efficient they will become.

The conversation wrapped up, of course, with a short discussion about WebCase and where it fits in all this. Thanks again to Mike for the interest. We hope to be able to participate in future podcasts!

Christa M. Miller is Vere Software’s marketing/public relations consultant. She specializes in law enforcement and public safety and can be reached at christa at christammiller dot com.