The Return of #CopChat

In June of 2012, the first hour long Twitter Chat with the focus being policing took place.

It's baaaaaaaack

It’s baaaaaaaack


#CopChat was born from the idea that police and the public could use Twitter to talk in real-time about issues an open and free manner not meant to judge each other, but to learn from each other.

For several months, every Wednesday night at 9pm ET #CopChat served it’s purpose of getting a conversation started.

We talked about real policing issues, use of force, arrest, communication and we also had some fun with favorite movies, songs and food. Police are just people like you and me. Parents, sons, daughters, husbands, wives. They struggle with bills, schedules, deadlines just like everyone else.

One thing where they aren’t like the rest of us is their ability to talk about some of the things they do. Worse is not individually but as a profession they do a terrible job of communicating for various reasons:

  • Laws
  • Privacy
  • Investigations
  • Assumption that we just know
  • Authority complex

So, what is the intent of #CopChat this time around after being off the scene?

  1. We want to try to fix some of the issues the stand in the way of great communication.
  2. Peel back some of the layers of secrecy.
  3. Foster understanding
  4. Build a community

Why now?

Can you think of a better time given what’s happening without overstating the obvious?

What are the #CopChat “rules”? LOL, there are no rules but we want this to be a good experience for everyone so here are some ideas to help.

1. The first rule of #CopChat is we talk about #CopChat. This isn’t FightClub, we have nothing to hide.

2. If you have a blog, website or social channel that you want to share, please do so at the beginning…but we’ll ask that you don’t do any selling of products or services.  This chat is for discussion not sales. If you would like to sponsor a chat or promote your product, email me. ( )

3. There is no insulting, bullying or swearing.  If someone says something that you don’t agree with, respectfully say so and have a discussion.  That is what this is all about…learning and sharing.

4. If a subject presents itself that you may have written a piece for feel free to share at the end of the chat using the hashtag. Depending on the speed of the chat it could get lost in the stream during the middle of it and you’re less likely to get clicks during the chat.

5. If someone tweets something that you feel compelled to RT, do it! But, make it even better by adding your own flavour to it, or conversely, if you disagree, say so and provide the reason why.

6. If someone disagrees with your position take the criticism professionally…no twitter fights.  It won’t serve anyone with any value.  Take it out of the chat and have your fight without the hashtag.  No one wants to see children fight…we want to see adults chat.

7. Finally…no tweet longer apps.  Keep it under 140, no one wants to be clicking links to see the rest of your tweet. It will take people out of the conversation and probably get ignored anyways.

How to follow along.

Naturally, the easiest way is by using the hashtag… #CopChat

Using a dashboard platform like You will want to use TweetDeck / Hootsuite / TweetChat / Twubs etc, to follow the #CopChat.  You may also want create streams to follow @t_burrows and who ever may be co-hosting. Make sure you watch your own mentions stream so you don’t miss anything someone says to you.

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Deja Vu: Part 2 — What Cincinnati Learned

Tim Burrows:

A saying comes to mind here, “A smart man learns from his mistakes. A wise man learns from the mistakes of others.”
When an example exists that shows the ‘then, fix and now’, learn from it. There is no need to make the same mistakes all over again.

Originally posted on improving police:

images-3With Ferguson still “on fire,” it may be helpful to look to a similar situation that happened in Cincinnati in 2001 and how that city responded.

The scenario was all too familiar: An unarmed black teenager was shot and killed by a white police officer. The result was violent protest. An overmatched police force withheld information. There were police in riot gear, looting, tear gas, vandalism and curfews.

The youth shot in Cincinnati was 19-year-old Timothy Thomas. He was wanted for a number of nonviolent misdemeanors, mostly traffic related. When Thomas was spotted a foot-chase ensued. In a dark alley, the officer thought he saw Thomas reaching for a weapon and shot him. Thomas was unarmed and died.

Protests began two days later, when hundreds of protestors threw rocks and bottles at police. They chanted “fifteen black men” (the number of black men killed by the Cincinnati Police in the…

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Positive’s From Tragedy: Robin Williams Death

I have been a fan of Robin Williams for as long as I can remember. From Happy Days, to Mork and Mindy, his stand-up comedy and movie roles, he left us with a library of memories that will bring us laughter and make us ponder and respect the greater things in life like poetry, genius and caring in the roles from Dead Poets, Good Will and Patch.

He made me laugh, cry and appreciate many things through his work. He dedicated time and money to charitable causes and to helping others in need. Hallmarks of greatness, he had more than a few.

Through his death he has raised awareness of the demons that those afflicted with mental illness, depression and substance abuse fight every day…often in silence.

To me, his death has 3 positives.

1.) Memories – I asked people on Facebook to share their favourite Robin Williams role and the responses showed just how deep and varied his talents were. It was great thinking about the roles he played and the things he did. Screen shot 2014-08-14 at 9.19.14 AM

2.) Awareness –  With his death I have seen more mentions of suicide prevention information, hotline numbers for people in crisis and resources for people struggling with demons. It’s too bad that a tragedy such as this is what makes people want to share this kind of great information in volumes.

3.) Policies – Twitter vows to “improve their policies“…this is part of a headline from a Washington Post blog story that tells a piece of the story detailing how Zelda Williams has jumped off Twitter and Instagram after some nasty abuse she took on the platforms in the wake of her dad’s death.

But why would it take something like this for Twitter to improve their policies? People have been complaining for a long time about the abuses that have been happening on the networks. The cyber-bullying, the anonymous attacks on people, the callousness some can have in the name of “free speech”.

Twitter hangs on very tight to the rights granted under the 1st Amendment and rightfully they should. In many ways, it is for certain a big part of the success of Twitter but often that protective stance has allowed bullies and abusers to go beyond what most people in society would consider appropriate.

It’s too bad that any tragedy like this has to be the catalyst for change when there have been so many more examples of death and abuse fuelled by bullies. If this one makes the social networks better for all, then at least some more good will come out of it.

Thank you Robin, for everything.

Photo Credit: IMDB site

Photo Credit: IMDB site

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Do Police Matter? Take Ferguson For Example

Tim Burrows:

Some very valuable questions here about Ferguson and the situation that has developed.
Questions that don’t need answers as much as points of fact that need solutions.

Originally posted on improving police:

images-3Is the training and improvement of police worth the cost?

If you don’t think so, think again.

What will be the total cost of this incident — both economically and relationally — in Ferguson?

Understanding Ferguson:images

A closer look at St. Louis (MO) suburb where fatal police shooting of an unarmed black teen led to unrest and looting

FERGUSON, Mo. (AP) — Tensions remained high Monday in parts of suburban St. Louis after a fatal police shooting of an unarmed black man led to overnight looting, vandalism and dozens of arrests.

A closer look at the town of Ferguson, where 18-year-old Michael Brown was killed:

LOCATION: Ferguson is about 10 miles north of downtown St. Louis… about 21,000 residents.

HISTORY: Incorporated in 1894… as a railroad depot, the town quickly grew into a hub for freight and passenger traffic and a bedroom community for city workers…

COMMERCE: Ferguson is home of the…

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Introducing: Comment Likes

Tim Burrows:

Nice addition to interaction and engagement on blogs.

Originally posted on News:

I’m sure we’ve all experienced this — reading through a comment thread, and seeing a particularly well-written comment, whether it be informative, insightful, or just plain funny. You want to show the commenter that you appreciate their work, but don’t have a reply for them, so you just move on. Well, those days are over!

Comment Likes are now available on all sites. We’ve seen how much you enjoy Post Likes, and want to bring that kind of love to comments, too. When you enable Comment Likes on your site, you’ll see a small Like appear below all the comments on your site, just like this one.

You and all your readers can click it to show your appreciation!

If you prefer to read in the WordPress Android or iOS apps, we’re working hard to bring Comment Likes to both of them as well — stay tuned for upcoming releases.


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Anatomy of a Nice Tweet

Every once in a while a Tweet or Facebook post comes out of the streams that stand out a little more than the average post or update.

Here’s one that happened yesterday.

To a lot of people this won’t look like much, but to a teen, well…it speaks to them. SO let’s take a look at the anatomy of this tweet.


#Molly #Veld2014 #Toxic – Veld is an electronic music festival that happens in Toronto and at this years party it appears a drug caused two deaths and a bunch of hospitalizations.  Molly is the nickname for MDMA or 3,4-methylenedioxymethamphetamine. Also known as Ecstasy, aka…a party drug. Toxic was the problem here and that sends a clear message.

The use of these hashtags targeted the desired audience and the drug believed to be the root of the problem.

Two to three hashtags are ideal with two being better.


Molly wasn’t just a drug in this tweet…”she” was hidden in plain sight not as a thing, but with human characteristics which made talking about her easier.


Why Molly is a problem, a phone number to call and removal of the fear of being charged for taking her home or having her were all clear.


The tweet was in the language of kids trying to hide something. It was all coded. Not to be so obscure as to not be understood, but in a cool, relateable way that kids would understand.


140 characters available…140 used. This is the only problem if you are looking for ReTweets with comments. Not so much of a big deal since Twitter re-worked the RT function a while back.

Smaller is always better, but there isn’t too much you could cut out of this without losing some of a very important and big message. Here’s a slight re-work…

Did u get #Molly at #VELD2014 & take her home? Call 416-808-2222 or drop her off at a police stn-no charges. She’s #toxic

Aim for 100 characters whenever you can as a maximum. Not always realistic, but a great goal to always go for.


Given the amount of text, this isn’t possible in this case, but adding a picture of Molly would have been gold for parents to see.

But, you could easily jump over to Facebook and make a much bigger information blast with pics and links and not worry so much about the real estate available for use.

Nice tweet @ShawanCoxon!



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Does the 1st Amendment Cover This?

When you’re a police officer, you are held to a higher standard. There is no arguing that. If you think it’s unfair, then you should probably find another line of work.  If you believe you should be allowed to say whatever you want, then you should really find an outlet other than social media to voice your opinion.

An officer in Marlin Texas decided to use his Facebook account to post some questionable comments. His first volley wasn’t what I would really get all worked up over. Framed in the right way, he might have actually been doing a bit of a public service message.

They were comments about his disdain of shopping for groceries on the first day of the month about food stamps,  tattoos, “bling,” along with the laziness of some shoppers. You get the picture. It was his second thought to keyboard sans filter that was the reckless and moronic part.

“I promise, if I ever snap and go on a killing spree, it will be in a supermarket on the first.”

I’m sorry officer, could you repeat that? Oh, never mind…you don’t need to. You put it on Facebook! You uttered the thought into text and published yourself right into suspension…and well deserved! Here is a thought from every lawyer going right now.

“I promise if you ever snap and go on a killing spree un a supermarket on the first I want to represent all the families in the lawsuits and be present for your execution for premeditated murder.”

The First Amendment affords a great deal of right, but with all rights there is an equal amount of responsibility. Some practitioners of social media will even applaud a disclaimer that look to separate you from your employer in cases of stupidity errors in judgement but they satisfy a legal team to say, “He acted in his own accord.”

But even those lawyers will admit in a lawsuit the employer will still be held to account for their members published thoughts if those thoughts are egregious enough especially if those thoughts come to fruition.

The Best Social Media Policy on Self Risk Management

1.) Don’t do, say or type anything stupid.

2.) If you rely on privacy settings for your protection you are stupid.

3.) If you think, “I shouldn’t”… you shouldn’t.

4.) When in doubt consider, “What is the worst thing that could happen.” then multiply.

5.) Always be guided by, “What could possibly go wrong?”

The 1st will only protect you so far…be it fair or not. We don’t stand for hate speech to be protected, maybe it’s time to consider stupid speech to be not protected as well.

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Children of the Badge: The Impact of Stress on Law Enforcement Children

Tim Burrows:

There has been lots of talk lately about police officers and the impact of PTSD…here is an article that takes a look at those who probably get overlooked in the equation of support….children.

Originally posted on Badge of Life Canada:

Author: ©Mark Bond
May 22, 2014

We know that being married to a law enforcement officer (LEO) has its challenges. But how does extended exposure to secondhand stress and trauma affect the children of LEOs?

According to a 2002 study led by Rudy Arredondo, law enforcement children “can develop traumatic stress vicariously” through watching and listening to 0522policechildtheir parents experiencing symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). This exposure can cause symptoms such as hyperarousal, intrusive thoughts, eating disorders and aggressive agitated behaviors. Children can even share the same memories or re-enact the LEO’s trauma by knowing that a traumatic event was experienced by the parent.

Law enforcement parents with prior training in stress management techniques after experiencing a traumatic event are less likely to transmit these symptoms to their children because they recognize their own stress responses. Not all children will experience or transfer their parents’ stress; however, it…

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7 year old goes to park alone…mom arrested.

As parents, think of the advice you have given your children about dealing with strangers.

  • Don’t talk to strangers.
  • If a stranger tries to talk to you run away.
  • Go where there are lots of people.

Now how would you feel if that kind of advice got you arrested! That’s just what happened to a Port St. Lucie woman this past weekend according to news reports. And yes, I know there are two sides to every story and there might be information that isn’t being released to the public about the issue, but that’s not my concern here.

PERCEPTION is my concern

I have been left with the perception that this woman who trusts her 7-year-old son to walk alone with a cell phone, has been arrested because she allows him some extra freedom and encourages him to be outside instead of inside.

Is that the reality? I have no idea. I can only go by the story being reported that has left this woman charged with a felony offence.

That is the perception that I have been left with…the officer knows better than the mother in this case if the boy is able to be on his own and make good decisions.

According to the police report, “numerous sex offenders reside in the vicinity.”

That’s true…in fact here’s a link to show that there are five sex offenders and two predator’s living within in a one mile circle of the park:

And here’s the map that comes back to the search:

  • Blue Pins = Offenders
  • Red Pins = Predators
1 mile around the park

1 mile around the park

For comparison…don’t let your children go to the Port St Lucie Police Station because it’s surrounded by the same number of registered sex offenders:

1 mile around the PSLPD

1 mile around the PSLPD

Even if there is more to this story than meets the eye, it’s the perception that is the killer here. I, along with many other people are left with the impression that the story is exactly how this has been presented by one side only.

This story has been out for well over 12 hours with updates and not a word from the police department to try to change perception.


Stop me if you’ve heard this one…”We want your kids to run to us when there is a problem, not away from us.”or “Don’t tell your kids the police will take your children away if they’re bad.” (PERCEPTION)

I’m pretty sure the young boy in this story won’t be looking at the police anytime soon for help after his mom got arrested. (PERCEPTION)

This just sent a message to the child…we’re not here to help you out, we’re here to arrest your parents. (PERCEPTION)

This just sent a message to the parents…you will be the helicopter parent that causes us so many problems later in life when your children can’t take care of themselves or recognize danger when they are alone. (PERCEPTION)

This just sent a message to the community…we’d rather arrest the low hanging fruit of a parent using a questionable decision than protect you all against the fear we are trying to instil being the pedophiles. (PERCEPTION)


The police will rarely ever make this decision alone. There would have been any phone calls made to determine the best course of action deemed appropriate by several interested parties. In Florida (where this occurred) the States Attorney will make the final decision of whether to move forward with a case or not.

There is definitely more information that hasn’t been released which can shed light on the case but in fairness, it probably won’t be and shouldn’t be until such a time as is appropriate before the courts.

The part of this story that made me most sad was that the mother no longer wants to let her son go to the park by himself not because she fears for her safety, but because she is afraid she will be arrested again. (REALITY)


This story may become my new example for clients on why you must have a communications strategy in place for when you are dealing with tough situations.

When you have a case that has the slightest smell of the potential of emotional sentiment from the public, get out in front of the story. The child, a park, a mother, sex offenders…every recipe in this screams emotional sentiment.

No spin…spin never wins, own it. State the facts as they are. Don’t make the fact fit the case or someone might point out that every neighbourhood is ripe with sex offenders.

Information is at everyone’s finger tips today and it doesn’t go away.  Social media is charged with emotional driven content and negative experiences. People complain at an incredible rate on social media about negative experiences they have had and other people love to share in that experience and pile on when they can.

Be there to enter the conversations and stem the tide of negative sentiment. Even if you can’t stop it, you can at least be there to take your licks and to show you are willing to talk to the public.  That will buy you good will and respect…in case you ever need to cash some of that in.

I’m pretty sure that this case will go nowhere given the circumstances and the comment made by the SA’s office saying, “There is no law to say how old a person has to be before they can go somewhere alone.” but then again, there is no law to say how young they can be either.

But in the meantime, is that enough to take a chance on your reputation before you come out and say something? Perception is everything.






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Militarization of Special Weapons and Tactics Teams In American Policing: A Los Angeles Police Department Perspective

Tim Burrows:

The “militarization” of police departments is a sexy term.
The real term is simply being prepared to fight fire with fire. Police react to the situation presented to them. SWAT Teams and military looking gear and equipment only became the norm when people stop using words to protest and started using violence….

Originally posted on IACP Blog:

Guest Bloggers: Charlie Beck, Chief of Police; Michael Downing, Deputy Chief
Commanding Officer, Counter-Terrorism and Special Operations Bureau; and
Ruben Lopez, Lieutenant, Officer-in-Charge, SWAT – Los Angeles, California, Police Department

There have been many reports and articles concerning the militarization of municipal law enforcement tactical teams commonly known as Special Weapons and Tactics (SWAT).
Most recently, the American Civil Liberties Union’s report entitled, War Comes Home: The Excessive Militarization of American Policing, focused on the militarization of SWAT teams and whether the transfer of military equipment to these teams lacked effective civilian oversight, resulting in unnecessary and excessive force. The evolution and growth of these teams scattered throughout our country in various forms (regional, part-time, full-time), have continued with more part-time teams being assembled and equipped with current funding opportunities from the U.S. government. Questions have been raised whether the proliferation of SWAT teams without civilian oversight has…

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