Utilizing Social Media to Further the Nationwide Suspicious Activity Reporting Initiative
Peters, Lynda A.
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The NSI process delineates that frontline personnel can solicit relevant behaviors observed by the public through in-person or telephonic interviews or online etips forms. It does not, in its current form, include the use of less formal social media tools such as text messaging, mobile-phone apps and social-networking sites like Facebook and Twitter, although some agencies are doing so. The literature demonstrates that the majority of people use social media and social networking sites to communicate every day, and more than three-quarters use it to participate in at least one community-focused group. Including social media technologies as an option for communicating a tip provides another means by which interested individuals can provide information about their observations. Several case studies demonstrate that citizens motivated by the unselfish desire to contribute will do just that, whether or not solicited. Law enforcement agencies can leverage that enthusiasm by incorporating social media into efforts to develop SARs. The strategy requires that an agency devote resources sufficient to develop policies and to provide training to guide personnel and citizens. It also requires that agencies respond to received transmissions, recognize useful contributions, and make efforts to encourage further participation.
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