Sunday, April 11, 2010

The Value of Social Media in Law Enforcement

I wrote this post for, where it was first posted. See the original here.

This is certainly not the “All traffic - all the time” post that you would normally expect me to write. Although, yes there will be traffic stuff in here. This is a post about why I do so much work in the Social Media Medium (SMM) and why you should be interested in it.

Now, let’s be realistic. In terms of ‘so much work in SMM’ I am a newbie, an amateur and ‘quiet’ compared to some of the rockstars that I follow. People like Amber Macarthur (@ambermac), Scott Stratten (@unmarketing), Chris Brogan (@chrisbrogan) and a few others that have nothing to do with law enforcement. Pioneers in the use Social Media for Law Enforcement like Scott Mills (@grafittibmxcop), Warren Bulmer (@warren_bulmer), Lauri Stevens (@lawscomm) and Christa Miller (@christammiller). So what qualifies me to write about it? Passion (more on that in a bit). I love the SMM and the doors that it has opened for me.

As Sgt. Tim Burrows of the Toronto Police Service, my ability to reach out to the community is limited by the timing and reception of the main stream media (MSM). If the MSM is busy with breaking news or full of their mandated or preferred content my message is not going to go anywhere. Further, due to things that are out of my control and in many cases journalists control, like editing and questions that I can’t finesse into my message, my intended message can be lost. Enter Social Media (TA DA!).

As anyone of my SMM identities that I use on Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, Blogger and several more, I can message when I want, about what I want and in as much detail or frequency as I choose. Enough about’s all about YOU! Remember I said passion earlier? it is. I’m a cop that believes in the motto “To Serve and Protect” deeply. I am a servant to the citizens of Toronto and the Toronto Police Service. I want to do mart part to help the Toronto Police Service accomplish their mission, “ make Toronto the best and safest place to be. I can best do that where I have any control or influence. For me, that’s talking about traffic safety (Woo Hoo, he’s back to traffic stuff).

My goal is simple in philosophy, but difficult in attainment. Why? I don’t have nearly as much control over it as YOU do. Your choices and behaviours dictate the accomplishment of my goal which is, “To reduce collisions, injuries and death in Toronto”.

So why set a goal that I can’t control? Because it is in YOUR best interest. If something I Tweet, post, upload or tag can benefit you, influence your behaviour or change your attitude then we ALL benefit. Just think, if the approximately 2 Billion dollars that gets funneled to the cover the societal costs of traffic collisions could be redirected to benefit hungry children, abused women, senior care and cancer research. Right now those monies go to insurance claims, injury treatment and rehabilitation, economic cost of transportation stop-ages, investigation, court process’ and many, many more hard and soft, direct and indirect costs.

Alcohol, drugs, occupant restraint infractions, extreme and distracted driving all lead to collisions, injury and death. Try to argue that with me and you will only show your own lack of research ability.

So when I can remind you of that in any way I can, we all can benefit. When you choose to ‘buy into’ my messages we all will benefit. Now, here is an added benefit. The messages that surround traffic safety don’t just affect Toronto. Those messages apply to nearly the entire world. Don’t drink and drive, slow down to see more, wear your seatbelt, be a cooperative driver, watch for pedestrians and cyclists, obey the rules of the road, etc, etc, etc, you get it. Here is one more reason. We are all traffic. Yup no matter what you think you are part of traffic. The movement of people and goods. Pedestrian, check. Cyclist, check. Transit user, check. Driver, check. Mobility challenged, check.

So here is my unabashed apologies for this one because I think I said why it would be beneficial. Find me on SM, friend, follow, join me. Then share what I have to say, if you find value in it, add your own comments, tell me what you think would help all of us. While you are at, join my friends that I mentioned. Each have value that can add to your lives. I wouldn’t plug them here if they didn’t. = Toronto Police - Traffic Services Highway Patrol

1 comment:

  1. Tim, thanks so much for the kind mention. I still get a bit anxious that my first-hand knowledge of police work is 15 years old (time for more ridealongs I guess!) so I appreciate the validation. You are doing a great job and please don't think of yourself as an amateur -- you are on the forefront with the rest of us!