Two news articles caught my attention today because they both point directly to the heart of the police being held to a higher standard.
The first is a video which details a police department’s search for a suspect wanted in relation to a crime that had occurred. That in itself is good police work. The problem was the person turned out not to be a suspect at all but a possible witness at best. The video is from April of this year and the page that sent out the information doesn’t even exist on FB anymore.
Takeaway: Social media has made it much easier and more efficient to reach out to the public and ask for their help in identifying people. The problem that it has created though, is the Internet is forever.
Think what the ramifications could be for this woman. Sure the police can delete the information, they can issue a follow-up, but a search on her could show a cached or shared copy of the post and a perspective employer (or current one) could see it.
Tip: Think about how you classify someone. Instead of calling your potential target a suspect of a crime, consider simply asking your public to help identify the person as a potential witness that you need to speak with. In a case like this it can go a long way in maintaining good relationships with your community.
The second, I will admit, made me laugh.
A cartoon was posted by a police account in the UK. The first reason I laughed was that it was cute joke that I have seen several times on different social channels. It plays on the stereotype of distractions and how couples see each other. Again…it is a joke!
The second reason I laughed is because this was posted by a police department in the UK that clearly has nothing to do with the UK since the driver is on the wrong side of the car.
Takeaway: The problem is, as the news article points out is no matter how you look at it, this joke is offensive. It is a subject that is offensive. Maybe not to everyone, but to many and the police can’t take the risk of being funny at the expense of others in this manner.
Is there a place for humour in a police agencies social media? Absolutely, but it is a fine line that must be walked and respected if you are going to go down that path.
Tip: If you are going to use humour, be considerate of everyone’s feelings. If you can’t look at a joke and know you won’t offend with it then leave it alone.
Police are held to a higher standard for good reason. Part of that higher standard ensures that there is always a leader and a voice of reason to be respected and looked up to. A voice of trusted authority.
If you try to hard to be just like everyone else, you might actually get there.