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Tuesday, November 19, 2013

What Kids Are Using to Bully Today - Instagram

I learned about a bullying case today involving 6th and 7th graders using a social media tool called Instagram. I thought Instagram was a photo sharing site, but realize now it is more than that. I read the comments the kids were writing in this case and was appalled. Parents, be aware of this photo sharing/social media tool kids are using. I understand it is difficult to keep up with it all, but this is what many kids are using. Monitor what your kids are saying and doing on their phones, tablets and computers. Here is a link with good info on Instagram for parents.
http://internet-safety.yoursphere.com/2012/02/instagram-is-it-okay-for-kids-what-parents-need-to-know/

Monday, November 11, 2013

Police Count

I recently read a study completed by the Rand Center for Quality Policing.  The study discusses the economic value of police in a community.  In terms of budgeting, police traditionally are looked at as an expense.  Studies and accomplishments in recent years show police are more of an investment than a budget item.  We are seeing more cost benefit analysis’s completed across the country that clearly shows there is tremendous value in having additional police officers work in problem areas.  The Rand study places specific cost to crimes.  It looks at the “social and personal” costs to crime and attaches dollar figures to specific crimes.  When officers are deployed properly and crime and disorder is successfully addressed through proper policing strategies property values improve, business climates improve and the overall perception of crime and disorder improves. The bottom line is that police officers count.....
Here is the link to the Rand information:
http://www.rand.org/jie/centers/quality-policing.html

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Social Media and Policing


Social media has changed the way we police forever.   While I was attending school in the 1980's, information moved at a snail's pace compared to what happens in schools today.  When I was a school resource officer in the 90's information was moving a little faster with pagers and cell phones, but very few students had them.  Today, most kids have cell phones and receive information instantly through texts, email,  Facebook, twitter and other sites.   When fellow students are not getting along today, everyone knows.  Rumors (true or false) are spread to hundreds of people in the press of a button.   Within minutes, thousands of people can know about a major incident.   I hear stories weekly about a Facebook postings by kids that would never be allowed by a responsible parent.  Many kids are posting their bad behavior on YouTube that no doubt would make their families ashamed.    Parents need to be involved in their kid's Facebook pages, smart phone, and computer activity.  Your involvement might keep them out of trouble and could save their life.  SafetyWeb.com or SocialShield.com are worth checking out for any parent with a teenage child.

People can post anything on social media sites regardless of facts.  I have seen a few stories now posted by folks who should be embarrassed about their behavior, but instead choose to blame others and tweak stories as so they don't look as they were the ones who did something wrong.   Don't like someone?  More and more folks are choosing to blast others via YouTube and Facebook. 
A year or two ago we added a policy for police staff related to the use of social media on and off duty.  Why you may ask?  Well, we have seen officers across the country get in trouble for comments on social networking sites.  Some are related to sensitive investigations, some have posted work related photos, and others have posted things that severely discredit them and their agencies.   Our staff work very hard every day to serve and build relationships with members of our community and those efforts can quickly be washed away by an officer who uses poor judgment in a comment on Facebook or some other site.

The evolution of social media is not all bad.  We have found it is a great way to expand community policing efforts by informing and interacting with the public.  We almost have 10,000 followers on the Duluth Police Facebook page (in the top 10 nation wide for followers in departments 100-250 officers).  We post most press releases as well as engage the public in other ways on our policing and crime prevention efforts.  Folks ask questions, compliment, complain and comment on our efforts.  It has been a great way to engage people we would not normally have contact with.