Over the recent past, social media has risen above the nitty gritties of networking to become a powerful force in branding. All reputable organizations acknowledge the important role of social media sites in keeping contact with potential and current clients. In addition, it is a critical tool of communication and is important in humanizing efforts of any organizations. In the wake of this development, the police force is now more exposed to the public through the social media. Indeed, law enforcement agencies recognize the growing influence of social media in shaping public opinions and registering the feelings of the citizens. It is no doubt that most agencies have lately appreciated the value of social media in their operations. Although it has its drawbacks, social media helps in humanizing the police force by providing a channel for connecting and conversing with the general public (Davis et al, 2014).
The use of social media is increasingly growing with regard to the quick sharing of information. The platform provides an avenue through which the public can provide information relevant to the police force therefore prompting the police into action. In the same breadth, the police force uses the channel to give information to the public while responding to tips from the general public. For instance, the police department can use the different platform to inform the public of its operations and events that affect the citizens in general.
The growing number of people on social media makes it an ideal bet in the effective and efficient communication of information from the police departments. Indeed, about 95% of police departments utilize social media platforms in one way or the other. Among these departments, about 75% have had successful solutions to crime through the use of social media and have full confidence in its use (Hartle et al, 2014). Ultimately, the success of these interventions works towards the improvement of relationships between the police and the community.
Despite the effectiveness of social media in communication, it is a double edged sword that is particularly dangerous in policing. One negative effect of using the platform is that it exposes the police officers to the public and inherently to the threat of danger (Brown, 2013). By availing the profiles of police officers in the social media, the law enforcement agencies are making the officers more prone to attack by evil elements in society. It is not only the lives of officers that are at risk due to social media exposure. Rather, the exposure of individual and public information provides a book from which illegal elements can read from.
The social media is prone to people posting misleading and wrong information on their social media pages thus compromising law enforcement. Reliance on this information by police officers could lead to wrongful apprehensions in the long run. This fact is further compounded by the fact that there is little control over what individuals share on their social media pages thus exposing the same to invalidity. That notwithstanding, social media when correctly used has the potential of enhancing policing.
Brown, J. M. (2013). The future of policing. Routledge.
Davis, E. F., Alves, A. A., & Sklansky, D. A. (2014). Social media and police leadership: Lessons from Boston.
Hartle III, F., Parker, M., & Wydra, C. (2014). The digital case file: The future of fighting crime with big data. Issues in Information Systems, 15(1).
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