Social Media and Public Safety: What Is Your Role?
In this chapter, we examine how social media has affected public safety agencies and organizations throughout the country. Social media started out as a true “social” experiment in a college and has blossomed into a force to be reckoned with. Social media has forever changed the way public safety agencies interact with the community. As technology continues to grow each and every year, it is hard to find a single person who is not using some type of social media. Millions of people each day log on to social media websites to communicate with others, post pictures or videos and express personal thoughts about everything from the latest police shooting to a funny joke. Access to social media websites is
available to anyone with a computer or phone. This has created an incredible dilemma for public safety agencies. Citizens are using social media to discuss and sometimes condemn public safety personnel. People are posting video footage of crime scenes, pursuits, wildlife fires and other intoxicating events. Because public safety personnel also use social media, departments are having to quickly react and create policies and procedures to regulate when and how personnel can use social media. As a result, state and federal courts have made significant rulings that affect public safety agencies. Criminal justice managers must adopt and develop department policies and procedures that address the use of social media websites on-and off-duty.