Stop, Or I’ll Tweet! Cops Struggle With Social Media

Display windows with two cartoon blue birds in police outfits

Image credit: Wired

By Bill Wasik

DALLAS, Texas — A nightstick, a revolver, and a smartphone to check in on Foursquare.

That’s the necessary gear of the future beat cop, as envisioned at the SMILE Conference — aka Social Media, the Internet, and Law Enforcement — held over three scorching September days in downtown Dallas. The site was the incongruously trendy Aloft Hotel, where the generally beefy and buzz-cut crowd learned the ins and outs of tweeting while surrounded by tasteful splatter art, concrete-slab walls, and white leather sofa cubes.

In their Web savvy, the hundred-plus police officers and other law-enforcement pros in attendance ranged from social-media pioneers like Toronto constable Scott Mills, who checks into Foursquare and Facebook as he walks the beat, all the way down to decrepit veterans who, in the words of one attendee, “are still figuring out solar calculators.” For the latter group, early morning sessions helped to teach basics: Day 1, setting up a Twitter account; Day 2, setting up a Facebook account (with the right privacy settings); Day 3, using TweetDeck and — a last-minute addition, said the conference organizer — Google+


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