Law Enforcement Outreach Training to Deal with Community Tensions
As a veteran of law enforcement for more than three decades, I am troubled by recent events that suggest a chasm between law enforcement agencies and communities. I am also troubled when I speak to colleagues who dismiss nontraditional methods – like internet-based outreach – for bridging those social chasms. Especially in light of the fact that these methods work incredibly well.
Let’s face it; cops in my generation didn’t grow up with this stuff. We never had Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, or the countless other social network tools available to us. When we wanted to buy something we went to the store. If we wanted to research something we went to the library. If we wanted to speak to someone we picked up the phone or went and found them. Folks in my age group, and older, aren’t always comfortable with technology, nor do we always appreciate that every generation thereafter has integrated technology into every imaginable facet of their life. The truth is, if we fail to respond to this shift in social norms, we just fail.
Constituents’ Use of the Internet
90% of America’s population is on the internet. Over 80% of internet users interact with government online. These are powerful statistics and they underscore that the populations we serve access and receive their information online.
Aaron Smith, of the PEW Research Center, cited these statistics in his April 27, 2010 article entitled Government Online:
- 48% of internet users have looked for information about a public policy or issue online with their local, state or federal government
- 46% have looked up what services a government agency provides
- 41% have downloaded government forms
- 35% have researched official government documents or statistics
- 33% have renewed a driver’s license or auto registration
- 30% have gotten recreational or tourist information from a government agency
- 25% have gotten advice or information from a government agency about a health or safety issue
- 23% have gotten information about or applied for government benefits
- 19% have gotten information about how to apply for a government job
- 15% have paid a fine, such as a parking ticket
- 11% have applied for a recreational license, such as a fishing or hunting license
Agency Internet Use
So what does this have to do with you? Agencies have the ability to provide information from their websites in the form of:
- Agency information and overview
- Department programs and access information
- Special topic education
- Form completion how-to tutorials and any number of other applications.
Elearning as an Agency Communication and Education Tool
Elearning provides a strong tool for external outreach. We often think of elearning as internet-based internal training for staff. But elearning is a fabulous tool for external education as well. Your clients can engage your agency at their convenience from the comfort of their home or mobile device, 24-hours a day.
Elearning management systems can also provide an agency head with the ability to collect and report how many citizens have accessed the site, have taken courses, have utilized the tutorial services, etc. Most importantly, providing high-quality training for your constituents demonstrates agency leadership that is responsive to the dynamic nature of public information access requirements, and a willingness to accommodate those requirements in a contemporary, all-inclusive way. Furthermore, mayors and city managers, county commissioners and judges, and state legislators appreciate forward-thinking strategies designed to draw the public closer and avoid the tragic discourse that results from a “them-and-us” perception.
Elearning is a nimble, scalable solution for information dissemination of all kinds; both internally and externally. It is relatively inexpensive, it is a one-time investment, it is familiar and convenient for the customers, and it is tailored to your agency to address your specific and unique priorities.
If you would like to learn more about public-facing, online education program development or might benefit from some concept consultation, please give us a call.
Chris Brown (Ret.)
Proud member of:
Oregon State Sheriffs’ Association
IACP (State & Provincial)
Oregon Association of Chiefs of Police
International Police Association