Directly from Officers: Social Media Safety Tips from Law Enforcement

This post is an excerpt from our Digital Citizenship Conference in Los Angeles. The conference was a rich environment for educators, law enforcement officers and parents to openly discuss issues and solutions for helping students shine in the digital world. All of the content from the Digital Citizenship Conference is available as a Virtual Replay Ticket.

Here are the experts who contributed to this blog:

Tim Martin

Tim Martin
Lieutenant
Huntington Beach

Marc Marty

Marc Marty
Training Sgt PIO
Montebello PD

Mike Bires

Mike Bires
Senior Police Officer
Azusa PD

Alan Weinreb

Alan Weinreb
Reserve PO
Hawthorne PD

Rudy Perez

Rudy Perez
Detective
LA School PD

Josh Ochs

Josh Ochs
Founder
SafeSmartSocial

Directly from Officers: Social Media Safety Tips from Law Enforcement

Learn how private features in popular apps can lead to dangerous online situations, how employers and college admissions monitor you on social media and how police departments are using social to connect with their community

Here are some key takeaways from the Social Media Safety Tips from Law Enforcement panel:

  • Recognize that popular apps can have private messaging capabilities
  • Parents should be aware that apps like Instagram, Facebook and Twitter have private messaging capabilities that can leave their child susceptible to dangerous online interactions.

  • Everything that gets posted on social media is searchable
  • Employers, college admissions officers and public agencies will search and monitor your online presence, so be sure that every post is a positive representation of yourself.

  • Officers use social media to connect with their community
  • If you are looking for real time information from your police department, check their social media channels. Oftentimes police officers will turn to social media to answer questions, promote events and raise awareness.

How can police organizations across the country be more savvy when it comes to social media?

As Officers, we turn to social to reach out to our community. –Marc Marty

Officers have been taught to do more with less. All of our police agencies at one point had a community relations department and most police departments no longer have that. As Officers, we turn to social to reach out to our community and we are as social as can be with our community. One of the goals is to build a relationship with the citizens of our community through Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and NextDoor. We also talk to people in person. We have a big event that happens nationwide, that is basically a big neighborhood watch meeting, and we used Facebook, Twitter, Facebook Live, Snapchat stories, and Instagram stories to promote the event. This event was so big, the turnout was so amazing and it translated not only in a digital environment but in a social environment. Our community now knows who we are, what we do, and what we are about. We are having amazing interactions with our community now. –Marc Marty, Montebello Police Department

What is the future of social media? How can it be used to prevent crimes?

Try to find a way to help students cope, before things escalate. –Rudy Perez

It’s a virtual audience that kids are looking at on the Internet and within that, there is a voice whether it be other students or teachers or strangers. We want to see what people are saying online and if someone is being negative and struggling with depression. We meet with the students when teachers find these messaging or posting trails on social media and we try to find a way to help students cope, before things escalate. We also now have a unit in Los Angeles that is dedicated to monitoring this type of thing on social media. –Rudy Perez, Los Angeles School Police Department

How can we take a proactive role as parents or educators or law enforcement professionals?

Recognize that even simple “photo apps” such as Instagram can still offer private messaging options to your kids. –Tim Martin

Recognize that even simple “photo apps” such as Instagram can still offer private video, image, and messaging options to your kids. Every aspect of social media has some sort of chat feature to it that most parents do not realize. So private is only as private as a kid wants it to be, but unfortunately the trend with kids is to build popularity by trying to get people to follow you and so kids make poor decisions. –Tim Martin, Huntington Beach Police Department

Develop a relationship with your child and be proactive with your child. Take that extra step to understand. Children are smarter than us when it comes to technology. –Marc Marty, Montebello Police Department

Being vulnerable with individuals within the community is how you build trust. –Alan Weinreb

As a police officer, I use Facebook Live, Periscope, and Snapchat. I like being able to be front and center with my colleagues and allow people to ask us real questions in real time. They get to see the real people behind the badge. I think being vulnerable with individuals within the community is how you build trust. –Alan Weinreb, Hawthorne Police Department

There are two rooms in a house that children’s tech devices should not go into and that is the bedroom and the bathroom. –Mike Bires

There are two rooms in a house that children’s tech devices should not go into and that is the bedroom and the bathroom. Children have no business at all having devices in those rooms. –Mike Bires, Azusa Police Department

What are some examples of the influence of social media? What can we do to combat bad influences?

We had an issue where a child was being abused by a family member and it was through social media that a family member found out, and we used that as law enforcement officers. We do something where we try to figure out what is going on with an exploratory phone call and our detectives get involved as if they were the child so the gentlemen that had abused the child admits to everything through social. –Marc Marty, Montebello Police Department

Anything on social media is public and searchable and most employers, particularly public agencies, are going to look at your social media. They are going to monitor and watch what type of person you are, who you follow and who you interact with. There is a great example where a guy got a job for a large company in the Bay area and on his way home he tweeted, “Now I have to deal with all the boss BS” and they promptly fired him. –Tim Martin, Huntington Beach Police Department

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