Together and a million miles apart

It is not every Tuesday where you can speak to colleagues from America, Australia, the Netherlands, Canada, Belgium and many other places. But this week I was lucky enough to be able to take part in the international social media in law enforcement conference known as Smile. I expected that there would be lots of differences because we are worlds apart. So what did I find?

Surprisingly, there were many similarities when we discussed our day-to-day work, priorities and dealing with issues. It doesn’t matter whether you are in Manchester, Massachusetts or Melbourne there are many key elements of developing conversations with people you serve that are universal.

Start by recognising that having some form of plan is a good platform to develop the use of social media. The key being knowing what you are doing and why you are doing it. And include in this the need to be able to evaluate what you do so you can show the impact it is having.

Then you can recognise that some key principles are important for everyone. These principles include being honest in what you put out, identifying ways to be interesting and engaging in your conversations, recognising that people have an insatiable appetite for information about policing and law enforcement. All these elements are the same no matter where you are based.

I was privileged to have the chance to speak to a colleague from the Royal Canadian Mounted Police New Brunswick who have dealt with tragedy a few months ago with the death of three officers. The issues they faced were reminiscent of the aftermath of the tragic deaths of Greater Manchester Police officers Fiona Bone and Nicola Hughes.  Both cases brought home the risks and danger that police officers face on a daily basis.

In the drive to maximise the opportunities from social media the issues appear to be the same no matter where you are. Some themes included how do you capture important data, how can you share more information, how can you ensure that officers are supported to use social media, and how do you stick to your digital principles when faced with a crisis? The conference this week was a chance to try to share these universal issues and work together to find solutions. We may all occupy very different parts of the globe but we share the planet and the challenges of the digital age.

For those I had a chance to speak to, thank you for sharing your knowledge and experience, and for those I didn’t, I hope we can connect in the virtual world.

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