Article Review of Telling a Story Through Social Media


The article, Telling a Story Through Social Media, from the June 2012 issue of __The Police Chief__ is a detailed and comprehensive overview of the use of social media outlets as a tool within law enforcement. The article extols the benefits and reviews the negative aspects of using social media in a law enforcement agency. Social media outlets are the latest and greatest tool to be utilized by agencies in efforts to expand the area of their community oriented policing practices. The piece is written by a police chief and his public relations specialist. These two authors are uniquely positioned to expertly inform the reading audience on the values of social media as it relates to law enforcement due to their experience and being a part of an agency that helped to pioneer the use of social media in law enforcement.


The authors begin the article by explaining their motivating reasons for embracing social media as a source of information dissemination. The authors begin to see a shift within their local media market and realized that fewer and fewer positive stories were being reported within the various media outlets (Norwood & Waugh, 2012). Their agency immediately was able to foresee the benefits of using social media as a public relations tool to their citizens by allowing approved officers become the reporters and basically write the stories the agency wanted to see reach the neighborhoods (Norwood & Waugh, 2012). This was an important method of making sure positive messages about the department were made available to the public.

The article next gives supporting research numbers to show the reader how important it is to know your community and how social media usage by a police agency will be received (Norwood & Waugh, 2012). They authors show that just having a website is outdated by today’s online usage habits and that deploying familiar social media outlets such as Facebook and Twitter, allow the user to interact with a known layout and navigation system that stays the same from page to page, but allows the agency to insert its own message and information (Norwood & Waugh, 2012). The article is detailed in showing how social media can be used to inform the public about diverse issues from traffic congestion to crime prevention tips. In essence, social media can bring the department closer to the community, which is one of the cornerstones of community oriented policing (Miller, Hess, & Orthmann, 2011). It allows the police to once again be a part of the community not just an enforcer of the community.

Next the article delves into the importance of developing and implementing a strategy and guidelines for the agency using social media. The authors detail how critical it is to have a policy in place to guide who and how social media is implemented by the department (Norwood & Waugh, 2012). They are able to show how making and keeping rules to who, what, and how stories and information is relayed to the community will greatly decrease any negative effects for the department such as negative public opinion and sensitive information being given out before it is proper to do so (Norwood & Waugh, 2012).

The article continues to show the other various uses of social media, mainly as a crime prevention and investigative tool. It shows how criminals can be monitored and how leads can be developed on cases. Of greater importance is how using social media outlets can help battle growing online problem of cybercrime against children (Norwood & Waugh, 2012). This can be combined with private citizen volunteer groups and help agencies and these groups, such as WiredSafety, coordinate their efforts to go after online predators (Miller, Hess, & Orthmann, 2011).


This article was extremely well written and told from a perspective of experience in the emerging technology of social media. It was an article written to cops from cops and was able to expound upon the areas that officers would need to be informed about in order to implement and maintain a social media presence effectively and safely. Of great importance was the authors’ willingness to address the negative side of using social media and to offer way to combat this as well. Overall this article would be a great benefit to not only individual officers, but to command staff and administration as well.


Miller, L. S., Hess, K. M., & Orthmann, C. H. (2011). Community policing: Partnerships for problem solving (6th ed.). Clifton Park, NY: Cengage Learning.

Norwood, B. T., & Waugh, D. (2012, June). Telling a Story through Social Media. (K. A. Sullivan, Ed.) The Police Chief, 79(6), pp. 30-34.

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