Tag Archives: Liz Strauss

Summing it up in 25 words

Image: <a href=I read a number of blogs that have nothing to do with law enforcement: the ones that teach social media as a business tool, as a community relationship tool.

One of my favorites is Successful Blog by Liz Strauss, who challenges more creative and less analytical thinking (and I do mean challenge, because I am analytical). One example: her “25 Words” challenges.

This time around she asked for a 25-word sentence about “some social media thing you see too much or too little of.” That part wasn’t hard. I came up with:

I don’t see enough law enforcement agencies truly interacting with their publics.

But it was only 12 words. I needed 13 more: to flesh out the idea, provide more detail. And make it more positive. So I wrote this:

More law enforcement agencies need to hear what their publics say, ask their publics for feedback, without fearing the repercussions.

But not only was it 20 words, it expressed the idea in a way that required too much explanation. It’s difficult to hear what critics say, especially when those critics are so vocal. It’s hard to ask for feedback; the constructive tend to get drowned out by the critics. And the repercussions? I’m preparing to write several blog posts, plus a feature article, about those.

Plus, the sentence didn’t answer why agencies need to hear and ask. So I wrote this:

Law enforcement agencies can’t effectively prevent or investigate Internet crime without listening to, talking with, and coming to know the people who are online.

24 words! Where to add that last word? I changed “people” to “community members,” a much more specific concept. Agency representatives don’t need to get to know a broad spectrum of “people,” but they do need to know their community members who are in online communities. To join them in those communities, get to know them in that context—just as good officers learn the business owners on their beats, the homeowners where they live.

So, the final idea:

Law enforcement agencies can’t effectively prevent or investigate Internet crime without listening to, talking with, and coming to know their community members who are online.

That’s what this blog boils down to. The Internet comprises a community much like most physical communities. As those communities do, it has its own unwritten rules, its own culture, and its own mix of people.

As cops who police immigrant communities are finding out, it is not possible to be effective law enforcers without first knowing the culture, the social rules. You don’t have to abide by those rules—that is not realistic—but you do have to know them. You have to know where to ask people to compromise in the name of keeping everyone safe. And you have to know where you need to compromise.

Law enforcement agencies can’t effectively prevent or investigate Internet crime without listening to, talking with, and coming to know their community members who are online.

What can you do to start getting to know your community members?
Image: bradleypjohnson via Flickr

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