When making policy on online officer activities, law enforcement administrators need to consider that blogs and tweets are not the only officer representations. More and more media outlets are online, too, naming officers in news articles about all kinds of community interactions–good and bad.
A tale of two officers
I first blogged about this at CopsOnline, where you can read a lengthier version. Long story short, in the example I used, two officers’ reputations had been formed by the media. On one side: an officer whose extensive community interaction (in the form of teaching) had been well documented. On the other, an officer whose actual work in law enforcement had been no less stellar than the first… but whose reputation appeared far worse, because of bad product packaging and terrible miscommunications.
The new resume
It’s been said that Google is the new resume. Truth be told, any search engine, whether social or traditional, is the resume – it’s the Wikipedia entry for the rest of us. It’s no longer what we decide to curate onto a piece of paper or onto one traditional one-page digital resume. It really is moot in a world when anyone can practically piece together your story without the help of a document designed to shape and steer our perception.
Solis then went on to say: “Indeed, there are many stories that fuel the urgency for everyone to take control of their online persona.”
Listening: the first step
Perhaps it isn’t necessary or even prudent for every officer to keep a blog, but administrators would do well to find a way to pay attention to how they come across in the community. “Listening” is described as a key component in social media, and it’s pretty easy: set up Google Alerts for your community and region. Read the local newspapers, the “rags” as well as the bigger names–and read them online, because most welcome reader comments, and they’ll be a good gauge of what the public is saying about your department and officers.
Finally, encourage your officers to do the same. Even Googling one’s own or a friend’s name can be a real eye-opener–and may result in officers’ efforts to be more proactive about taking control of their own online identities.