What’s New? July 2021 Edition

July 2021

 

Interested in Submitting an Article for the Newsletter?
If you are interested in submitting an article for the newsletter, please email Michael Cummings. Articles should be no more than 1,000 words.

Job Postings

Our Job Bank webpage is one of our most viewed pages. To see current job openings, go to https://ncdoj.gov/ncja/job-bank/. If your agency has job openings, please complete the Submit New Job form, and we will be glad to advertise it for you on our website.


July 2021 – June 2022 Course Catalog

It’s that time of year again! Our new course catalog is available for viewing! It’s packed with new course offerings, important registration information as well as key steps needed to receive your official transcript. Access the course catalog here.


Introduction to IA Affairs?

Kevin Tingen, an Instructor/Developer at the Academy, wants to hear from you if you’re interested in the Academy offering a course entitled Introduction to IA Affairs. Please contact Mr. Tingen via email and let him know what you think. You can also fill out this short survey.


NCJA 10-14 podcast image

NCJA 10-14 is the podcast produced by NCJA. Topics covered include hemp, opioids, human trafficking, and more. Don’t worry if you’ve missed an episode. You can listen to or download them at any time on our website.

 


NCJA Online Bookstore

An online Academy bookstore has been in conception since 2017. Ty Byrd, DOJ IT, Heather Melton (former Bookstore Manager), and Tawnya Smith, ISS Manager, have worked diligently to get all of the components together to make the online store happen. The Justice Academy bookstore staff wanted to improve the customer experience and knew that an online store would make the shopping experience easier for our customers statewide. Our NC Justice Academy Bookstore went “live” on June 1st, 2021. It has been a team effort with many moving parts, but it is a welcome addition to our “brick and mortar” bookstore.


Acadis Partnership

The North Carolina Justice Academy officially launched Acadis in the fall of 2014.  When Acadis was first launched, the Learning Management System (LMS) was immediately utilized, and our contracts with Learn.com and Blackboard ended.  In July 2015, the student registration and housing modules were being used in the Acadis Readiness Suite package. Since then, expanding our usage and collaborating with other law enforcement agencies became a priority.  The first partnership was with the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services Forensics Testing for Alcohol (FTA) branch. This partnership was very successful and brought about thoughts of further expansion.

As of January 15th, 2020, the North Carolina Justice Academy officially partnered with Criminal Justice Standards and Sheriffs’ Standards Divisions to create one database for all law enforcement in the state of North Carolina. As a result, all law enforcement officials will now have one account to access all of their training and certifications.  We are excited about our partnership with Criminal Justice Standards and Sheriffs’ Standards Divisions. This partnership will help law enforcement officials across North Carolina through our expanding online presence and more accessible online training.

As of June 3rd, 2021, we are importing all Criminal Justice Standards and Sheriffs’ Standards data into our current Acadis production site.  We are hopeful that by October 2021, our partners will be ready to go live and start using the Acadis site for all of their certifications that are due throughout the year.  We hope that this partnership will continue to grow and be beneficial to all law enforcement in the state of North Carolina.


Residence Hall B Closed for Remodeling

On March 26th, Residence Hall B closed down for remodeling. The construction contract was awarded in May of 2021 to Monteith Construction. Heather Melton is working with our maintenance staff to gather items that are being tagged for a yard sale.  The yard sale date has not been set, but a notification will be sent out to let everyone know when that will be. As soon as the building is empty, the construction can start.

 

Residence Hall C Re-Opening

Residence Hall C was originally completed in 1990 and has housed staff members and students since opening. On average, the NC Justice Academy hosts 44,000 overnight stays each year in our residence halls.  In April 2019, Residence Hall C closed for renovation, and our staff started emptying the building. Gary Royal, Operations Manager, and Reggie Iverson, Maintenance Supervisor, led the construction efforts that began in August 2019. This complete renovation includes new furnishings, utility systems, an elevator, and a bathroom in each room. Residence Hall C now has 55 rooms that can accommodate 96 students and includes office space for 12 staff members. We have officially re-opened Residence Hall C, with NC Wildlife being the first to stay in our newly renovated building on March 7th, 2021.


CALEA Re-Accreditation

The North Carolina Justice Academy received its fifth accreditation award from the Commission on Accreditation for Law Enforcement (CALEA®) on March 26th, 2021, after Director Trevor Allen and Accreditation Manager Tami Warren met with the CALEA Commission Review Board. The Commission on Accreditation for Law Enforcement was created in 1979 as a credentialing authority through the joint efforts of law enforcement’s major executive associations, and its accreditation award is considered the gold standard in public safety accreditation. The Academy received its initial accreditation in March 2008 and has continuously worked to ensure the 159 CALEA® Standards for Public Safety Training Academies are met or exceeded.

The North Carolina Justice Academy had a Virtual On-Site Assessment on October 26th  & 27th, 2020, as part of the program to achieve accreditation by verifying it meets professional standards. The CALEA Assessors were John Foster, a retired Captain of the Florissant Police Department in Missouri, and Patrick Miller, a current Instructor with the Department of Criminal Justice Training Academy in Kentucky.  The assessors had the opportunity to interview many of the Academy’s instructors and staff, client agencies, and students during the on-site visit.

The CALEA® Public Safety Training Academy Accreditation program requires agencies to comply with internationally recognized standards. These standards focus on policy and procedures, administration, support services, instructional techniques, facilities management, student safety, records integrity, and a host of other issues that promote the professional delivery of training within the public safety industry.


Powell House Demolition

On March 31st, 2021, the demolition of the Powell House started. The Powell House has been part of this campus’s history for many years and was constructed in the late 1910s as the home for Mrs. Mollie Jones’s parents, who was the President of the school at the time. It would later become the Annie Kate White School for Little Girls, lasting from 1919 to 1935. In 1935 it would be repurposed as Sutton Hall and used for boys in 1st – 7th grade. In the early forties, the first floor was used to house the College Library for a while. She made her final resting area as part of the Academy’s campus, first being used as offices and later used as a place for training in SWAT techniques, hostage negotiations, and more. Though we say goodbye to the building, the rich memories and purposes are not lost. Thank you for all your years of service!


Congratulations to Jessica and Chris Cook!

The Academy’s Jessica Cook (Instructor/Developer) and her husband Chris welcomed the birth of their son Conway Cullen Cook. Conway was born on June 2nd at 2127. Conway weighed 8 pounds 9 ounces and measured 21 ¼ inches at birth. Conway is named after Jessica’s grandfather. His middle name, Cullen, is derived from Jessica’s grandmother’s maiden name, McCullen. We at the Academy are very happy for the Cook Family and extend congratulations and best wishes.

 

 

 


Advanced Leadership Training: Can We Afford It?

Kevin D. Tingen
Instructor/Developer, NCJA (Salemburg)

The year was 1989, and it was my very first as a sworn officer. Like most rookie officers, I was anxious to learn the ropes, so I looked to my supervisors and senior officers. Law enforcement was my dream career, and I jumped in with both feet, soaking in everything I could about it. I wanted to learn all of it, and if you wore the brass, then in my eyes, you were obviously an expert and could teach me the things I needed to know.

But then, a strange thing began to happen. I started to notice that some of my “experts” seemed a little more expert than others. Some were easy to talk with and learn from, while others seemed to have very little time to share anything apart from giving orders, some of which made little sense at the time. But, in that period, you were expected to carry out orders without question as long as they were ethical and legal. Being from a military background, I understood this approach to leadership. I had my share of military drill sergeants bark orders to me with no recognizable meaning. I certainly did not question them, so it was natural to extend this same courtesy to my police supervisors. Of course, I was also born during the early years of Generation X, which meant I closely associated with the baby-boomer generation, and I was conditioned not to question my commanders.

It was not until the millennials entered the workforce in the late 1990s and early 2000s that it became more commonplace to ask leaders to explain things a little better before trotting off to fulfill their orders. Despite all the grief that we older generations gave to Gen Y over the years about constantly asking “why, why, why,” it turns out they did us all a favor. We discovered that when we understand the reason(s) behind an assigned task, we embrace it and work more efficiently. We are much more thorough and therefore do a better job. Most leaders have embraced this reality and learned to expect the question of “why.” They are more at ease now to provide an answer to this question than they were twenty or thirty years ago when to be asked why might be considered insubordination.

What is it that brought criminal justice leaders to understand that something as simple as answering the question of “why” might ensure improved morale and improved performance from their workforce? The answer is not that mind-blowing. It is the same answer that helps officers prepare to face the challenges of working the street. The answer is training. To be more specific, it was leadership training that brought about this paradigm shift. Yet, in many agencies, leadership training is not given much priority. The fact is, we train to know the elements of criminal law. We train to strengthen our bodies to survive physical confrontations. We train with weapons to ensure proficiency in using them correctly. Why then should we not train to become better leaders and ensure we operate as an effective and professional organization?

Ideas like listening to your people, engaging and involving them in decisions, learning to take risks, innovation, and other critical aspects of today’s leadership models are essential to an effective organization. These ideas and how to implement them are enhanced with advanced leadership training. Fortunately for us, today’s criminal justice leaders have access to any number of training programs. However, they are not always very affordable and could leave you wondering if it is worth the cost.

To illustrate, about nine years into my law enforcement career, I decided to give up my position as a motorcycle traffic officer to pursue upward mobility as a sergeant. Yes, I am sure this comes as a shock to many readers who could hardly imagine leaving the joy of riding a Harley each day in exchange for the pleasure of supervising others. It was a decision that I second-guessed several times in my first year as a sergeant! Apart from First Line Supervision class, my training as a new sergeant was primarily trial and error, and mostly error, as I recall. But, about a year and a half into my tenure as a supervisor, I received the opportunity to attend the Administrative Officer’s Management Program (AOMP) through North Carolina State University. It was an eye-opening experience and one that I consider a crucial point in my career.

My experience in this training helped me see that I could grow and develop into a much better leader. It helped me define the leader I was and the leader I could aspire to become. It created a mindset for excellence, which served my agency, and me well throughout my career. The knowledge I gained from this training opened doors and opportunities for growth that might have never been realized without it. I was fortunate to work in a department that valued training and could afford the expense of it. There were very few other options available back then for training focused solely on criminal justice leadership. For my agency, it was an investment in their future and mine. So, in my experience, yes, the cost of advanced leadership training is worth it. But, even things that are worth the costs are still sometimes unaffordable for many agencies.

Thankfully, that is no longer the case. The North Carolina Justice Academy offers more affordable options that are effective to equip today’s leaders. They are the NCJA Leadership Certificate Program (LCP) and the NCJA Leadership Institute (NCJA-LI). The LCP is a cumulative 400-hour leadership development program that allows leaders, both sworn and civilian, to enhance their knowledge and skills. It includes specific academy courses that are leadership-based or that are essential for CJ leaders to understand.

The primary requirement of the LCP is to complete the NCJA-LI, which is a 120-hour course delivered by the Academy and a partnership with the UNC School of Government. Students can opt to attend the NCJA-LI without pursuing the LCP if they wish, but the course can only be offered twice per year. At first glance, a 120-hour class sounds like a long time to be away. But, to make it easier and more practical for attendance, the course is delivered over three months (40 hours per month), with the first two months delivered virtually so that students can work from home or their office. The third month requires live attendance at the campus in Salemburg.

Both of these programs are free of charge to criminal justice agencies throughout the state. They offer the highest quality of training and provide a challenge for each participant that will benefit them throughout their career. So, to answer the title question of this article, “Advanced Leadership Training: Can We Afford It?” the answer is a resounding yes, you certainly can. In fact, you really cannot afford not to if you wish to develop the best leaders you can have within your organization. If you need additional information on the LCP or NCJA-LI, please visit https://ncdoj.gov/ncja/certificate-programs/ncja-leadership-certificate/ or contact Kevin Tingen.

About the author:
Kevin Tingen is Police Captain (Retired) from the Cary, NC Police Department who now serves as an Instructor/Developer at the North Carolina Justice Academy.


Medical Marijuana – The Good and the Bad

By William Loucks
Instructor/Developer, NCJA (Edneyville)

The opioid epidemic has affected the United States in increasing numbers, even during the pandemic. With the increase in the availability of synthetic opioids, such as fentanyl and overdose deaths, we understand that addiction will plague us until the end of time. However, only two things will change during our careers: the type of controlled substances that the Transnational Criminal Organizations (TCO’s, new name for cartels) will flood our country with, and the technology used in manufacturing those substances.

As law enforcement officers, we realize that we cannot arrest our way out of this situation. Therefore, some agencies nationwide are taking a dual approach to this situation. Some law enforcement agencies incorporate options of treatment programs as an alternative or supplement to incarceration for those with substance use disorders.

Developments on the federal level may require us to change the way we approach marijuana (cannabis). On December 16th, 2018, hemp and hemp-derived products were removed from the Federal Controlled Substances Act (CSA). Hemp is cannabis with a Delta 9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) concentration of less than .3%. THC is the primary psychoactive ingredient in cannabis that causes users to feel euphoric effects (getting them high).  The United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has approved Epidiolex, a cannabis-derived prescription medication for rare seizure disorders. The FDA has also previously approved three synthetic prescription cannabis products Marinol, Syndros, and Cesament.i

In March 2020, the Drug Enforcement Administration and the Department of Justice announced action to expand further opportunities for scientific and medical research on marijuana in the United States.ii On May 14th, 2021, three companies were notified by the DEA that their request to grow marijuana for marijuana research purposes was accepted. “Pending final approval, DEA has determined, based on currently available information, that a number of manufacturers’ applications to cultivate marijuana for research needs in the United States appears to be consistent with applicable legal standards and relevant laws. DEA has, therefore, provided a Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) to these manufacturers as the next step in the approval process.” iii

The FDA is now backing studies using MDMA-assisted psychotherapy to treat PTSD of various forms, regardless of the source in clinical trials.iv The FDA also approved Spravato, a nasal spray for treating treatment-resistant depression. Spravato is a derivative of ketamine and a schedule III substance.v The United States Food and Drug Administration is exploring the medical benefits of controlled substances that law enforcement previously thought of as having no medical necessity.

Similar trends are also present on the state and local levels. It does not take much research to find that many people lean towards marijuana in place of opioids and other prescribed medications. As of 2020, there were 3.2 million registered medical cannabis users in the United States.vi “Despite the lack of scientific evidence supporting the use of THC or CBD for certain conditions, many are using cannabis to treat a variety of medical symptomology. Cannabinoids have been proposed as a means to manage chronic pain and alleviate reliance on prescription opioids.” vii

With the push for criminal justice reform, we find that several district attorney’s offices in North Carolina are prosecuting marijuana cases in lower numbers unless it involves a significant amount. The breakdown of racial disparities in marijuana-related arrests, elected politicians’ suggestions, and public outcry suggests that law enforcement’s approach to marijuana may have to change. North Carolina Senate Bill 711, the Compassionate Care Act, passed its first reading on April 8th, 2021, and would legalize medical marijuana. Currently, sixteen states have approved recreational marijuana, including the District of Columbia. Thirty-six states have approved medical marijuana.

Cannabis legalization brings both the good and bad, so we must understand both. If legalization occurs, we should give our officers the best training and education possible to keep them safe. This education includes specialized information on statistics, transportation, licensing, trends, TCO’s, and signs of illicit operations/sales.

Potential economic growth could be a positive benefit that comes with medical marijuana. Such growth could come from new jobs, tax revenue, and potential growth in commercial real estate. And yes, there are complexities when dealing with a legal substance that is taxed on the state level, while the same substance is illegal on the federal level as it is classified as a Schedule I substance. With the DEA moving forward with licensing, how long will marijuana remain a Schedule I controlled substance? Another advantage comes from reducing the “illicit” or street sales side of marijuana for people with legitimate medical needs. Overall, legalization could potentially mitigate some violent and property crime statistics. If legalized, we could possibly remove a large portion of the black market, similar to ending the prohibition on alcohol. The black market for marijuana will not go away, but a significant amount will.

Potential negative aspects of marijuana legalization include that marijuana businesses operate on a cash-only basis. Banks must have access to a federal payment system to function, so banking is still somewhat illegal for marijuana businesses as marijuana is still a schedule I on the CSA. This arrangement creates conflict with banks trying to navigate between federal and state laws. Additionally, the high cost of licensing and taxes with no tax-type incentives (for growers, extractors, or dispensaries) drives up the black market or illicit dispensaries/retail locations.

Cannabis legalization must be discussed by the law enforcement profession now. Because our legislative bodies are introducing legislation that could legalize marijuana, it has entered our world faster than we have effectively managed. Regardless of your opinion on this issue, we understand it is primarily out of law enforcement’s hands. So how do we address this changing and ever-evolving potential landscape of cannabis legalization?

References:

i.  https://www.fda.gov/news-events/public-health-focus/fda-and-cannabis-research-and-drug-approval-process
ii. https://www.dea.gov/press-releases/2020/03/20/dea-proposes-process-expand-marijuana-research-united-states
iii. https://www.marijuanamoment.net/dea-finally-ready-to-end-federal-marijuana-research-monopoly-agency-notifies-grower-applicants/
iv https://www.newsweek.com/molly-psychedelic-drug-shows-great-promise-mental-health-treatment-new-study-finds-1589915
v. https://www.accessdata.fda.gov/drugsatfda_docs/label/2020/211243s004lbl.pdf
vi. New Frontier Data. “Cannabis in America for 2021 & Beyond: A New Normal in Consumption & Demand.”
vii. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6388700/


Interns – The Unsung Heroes!

Merrily Cheek
Instructor/Developer, NCJA (Salemburg)

“As an intern for Vice President Walter Mondale, I arrived the first day ready to write policy memos and change the word…but my assignment was doing an inventory of the furniture.” – Amy Klobuchar

The Watauga County District Attorney’s Office hosted my Appalachian State undergraduate internship. Luckily, nobody assigned me furniture inventory, though I was designated to keep the presents received list for a baby shower held for an office employee. However, I happily handled that task as it meant the social network accepted me into their inner circle. After all, a young person should learn how to mingle inside and out of professional settings appropriately.

During my time at the DA’s office, a capital murder trial commenced. I had the unique experience of observing its jury voir dire. I was also responsible for maintaining the DA’s evidence list (ensuring it corresponded to the court’s list), making certain the victim’s family was properly tended to, liaising with officers regarding their court dates, and assisting in traffic court. I was also able to wander over to the Probation Office when they met with offenders. One thing I distinctly remember is someone telling me that it was okay to end my internship if I decided, “this isn’t for me.” Part of the internship process can be the weeding out of professions in which we don’t think we belong. This point is one I make sure to pass along to each intern with whom I have the pleasure of working.

I supervised numerous interns during my time at Community Corrections and Home Confinement, CJ Standards, and the Orange County Sheriff’s Office. Many of these students stand out for their ability to acclimate quickly to a fast-paced environment. There’s also the intern who went on to complete Basic Law Enforcement Training, became a deputy, and showed up at my house recently in response to a call for service I made. When students show interest in this field, I think it is partly our responsibility to snag them and push them along; we should figure out how to maintain their interest until they reach the finish line and enter the workforce.

It may seem like taking on an intern will be more work for you. It does require some time and effort to introduce them to what we do, provide material to get them going, and then supervise their projects. However, you may be rewarded with some unexpected dividends.

Jessica Cook also had a very positive experience with her intern. “Jackson Porter, a student from UNCP, was in his final year of college. The only class he had left to complete before graduation was his internship. We were blessed to have him. Jackson came to us when we were in the trenches of updating the Instructor Training program. Jackson was very skilled at computer programming, software, and design. Because of his skillsets, Jackson was able to compile several instructional videos for us to place into the Instructor Training program. The work completed by Jackson saved the Instructor Training Advisory Group an exponential amount of development time. He brought different ideas to the table that otherwise might not have been thought of since he looked at everything from a student’s perspective. He took pride in his work, and he was happy to change projects until we felt that they were perfect.”

I have tried to remember that part of our duty to public service ensures we continue to have quality public servants. Internships are connected to succession planning – we are all dispensable.  Our agencies will continue without us. Are we doing our part to leave our jobs better than when we found them? We can accomplish that by helping to prepare those coming after us.

Ms. Ramya Krishna, a 2nd year NCCU legal student, is with my team over the summer. She will be assisting Bob Pickett and Jarrett McGowan with legal reviews of our lesson plans, researching various topics assigned to her, and otherwise learning more about what we do at the Academy. Ramya showed enthusiasm for expanding her knowledge about criminal justice training when I interviewed her.

I am looking forward to hearing her thoughts on what she learns about the confines in which law enforcement must do its job. So many people are not familiar with administrative rules governing minimum requirements and training, statutory mandates, relevant case law governing the use of force, etc. I believe this type of internship will be eye-opening for a young law student such as Ramya.

If you are interested in taking on an intern, DOJ has a process in place that makes the onboarding relatively simple. If your supervisor and DOJ administration agree to an internship, Melissa Lovell is our contact in Raleigh.


Paving a Path to Justice

By Ramya Krishna
NCCU Law Student, NC DOJ/NCJA Intern

It is with great enthusiasm that I start my internship at the North Carolina Justice Academy! I look forward to visiting the campus in Salemburg, once time permits, and most importantly, achieving a greater understanding of how case law helps form the standards under which law enforcement officers are trained in North Carolina.

In my formative years, my life was positively impacted by two police officers. One police officer stopped my friends from bullying me. The other police officer, whose house overlooked the park, helped ensure that it remained an idyllic haven for children in my neighborhood and across Durham. When I was in college, I attended a press conference in the aftermath of the death of Marcus Deon Smith, who died while being arrested by police. These contradictory observations motivated me to understand how law enforcement officers are trained in North Carolina and how this training could be improved.

I was born and raised in Durham, North Carolina, the City of Medicine. My mother is a scientist at Duke University, and I, a voracious reader, was fortunate to grow up near a research university campus. I taught myself how to walk to all of the Duke libraries, but once I walked into the Duke Law library, I like to say that I never really walked out again! I was fascinated by rules and regulations, their implications, and the language used to persuade and defend. I enjoyed the work of advocacy, from student-led panels with mayoral candidates to advocating for music program funding at city council meetings. However, coming from a family of scientists, engineers, and physicians, I was shoehorned into medicine. In the spirit of adventure, I decided to attend a medical high school.

During my time there, I had two opportunities that were decisive turning points in my decision to pursue a legal career: competing in a medical law and ethics competition and interning at Duke Regional Hospital. I joined an organization called “Health Occupations Students of America (HOSA),” which allowed students to compete in health science competitions at the state and national level. I chose Medical Law and Ethics as my event, having developed a strong interest in learning about medical ethics within my health science classes. In addition, I had maintained my love for the law throughout high school. The well-known quotation “Do what you love, and you’ll never have to work a day in your life” was true for me, and my passion allowed me to go all the way to the national competition, where I placed third.

The following summer, I had an internship within Duke Regional Hospital, shadowing any nurse who would let me follow them, and eventually, checking the vital signs of patients in the bariatric ward. In having the opportunity to speak with these patients, many told me stories of what amounted to medical malpractice. Returning to school after hearing these stories, I noticed that many of my classmates, and many of the doctors I observed at Duke, were more concerned about their paychecks, appearance, or power and would denigrate patients behind their backs. It was then that I realized that I was on the wrong side of the examination table, and I preferred to represent patients in medical malpractice lawsuits instead of being in the healthcare profession.

After high school, I attended Guilford College in Greensboro, North Carolina, which sparked my passion for social justice, facilitated my immersion into interdisciplinary learning, and nurtured my enjoyment of public service. As a double major in English and Media Studies and Psychology with a minor in Education Studies, I would share notebooks between classes, delighting in the intersections my studies exposed me to. I engaged in student leadership and had the opportunity to observe and practice the skills of servant leadership that I learned in high school. Through playing the violin, I had the chance to learn the ins and outs of managing a nonprofit organization as the Recording Secretary on the board of the Greensboro Philharmonia, a role in which I continue today. I committed to a legal career in high school, but my time in college inspired me toward public service.

I chose the North Carolina Central University School of Law because I believed that a state university would best provide the legal education and experiences I would need to serve the state of North Carolina. The philosophy of NCCU’s School of Law is genuinely one that upholds truth and service as its highest goals, and although our classes are rigorous, so is the level of academic support. During law school, I have had the opportunity to advance technical literacy in Durham, spread awareness of racially restrictive covenants in Durham’s deeds, and become certified in Mental Health First Aid. Although I am still exploring the many legal specialties the law offers, I would love to work either for the North Carolina Department of Justice or start my own law firm and eventually run for office in North Carolina. Wherever my career takes me, I am committed to public service, and I am thankful that my journey will continue at the North Carolina Justice Academy.


Social Media

Amber Burgess-Cox
Instructor/Developer, NCJA (Edneyville)

In our highly connected world, social media grants our communities 24 hours a day access to us.  Everywhere we turn, our citizens hold smart devices that record or photograph law enforcement doing our jobs well or poorly.  Harnessing these narratives is of great benefit to our agencies.  I do not need to tell you that narratives frame every aspect of our lives.  The utilization of social media to educate, inform, and even inspire our community is crucial.  Social media accounts do not need to be elaborate, but they allow us to influence public perception of our actions.  The successful use of social media leads to greater transparency, increasing the community’s trust in us.  In addition to sharing public safety information, a social media platform allows us to share positive interactions within our community, allowing us to be seen as community members rather than “us versus them.”

Social media is a collective term for websites and applications which focus on communication, community-based input, interaction, content-sharing, and collaboration.  Some examples of social media platforms are Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, LinkedIn, Pinterest, Twitter, TikTok, Nextdoor, YouTube, and Twitch.

Creating a social media platform for law enforcement agencies is a necessary evil. However, this evil is one we can control.  In this day and age of law enforcement, public perception is all about the narrative.  What better way for us to control the narrative than to tell our story our way.  By presenting our stories, we can reach out to people who think differently than we do.  Branching out into different communities will allow us to build relationships we can utilize when things go wrong.  The foundation of these relationships is community outreach programs.  With a prominent social media presence and successful community programs, we will make our enemies, if not friends, at least accepting of our presence.

Social media is an underutilized tool for law enforcement.  We all know criminals can be tracked and prosecuted by what we discover about them via social media.  Counter surveillance has been performed on groups like Antifa or the KKK. The information gathered keeps agencies aware of protests and marches. You reach more people with social media than you do in person.  Social media is cost-effective and COVID proof.  It is open 24 hours a day.

No matter the event – KNOWLEDGE IS POWER.  The more we tell our communities, the more accurate information they will have.  This information can help to reduce fear, panic, and uncertainty.  By building relationships with our communities during the good times, we lay the foundation for their support in times of peril.  In the classic song “Bridge over Troubled Water,” Paul Simon speaks about times being rough and “when darkness comes, and pain is all around.” We can all agree these are the darkest times many of us have ever seen in our careers.  However, Simon speaks of the bridge of comfort.  We are the bridge for ourselves to the people we serve.  The more we reach out to our communities, the more support we will receive.  These bridges may not be used next week, month, or year.  However, there will be an event – an arrest, a school shooting, something that spins out of our control.  The bridge we have built with our community resources will get us across the troubled waters.

Sources:

Remember to like us on Facebook and Twitter to get daily updates and pictures from our classes. Also, feel free to call or email me with your suggestions for training. We are here for you!
Trevor Allen, NCJA Director
Phone: 910-525-4151

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