Part 3: Where We Are Headed…
So, we’ve covered a lot in the last two posts- a brief history of the Public Affairs Office and what we are doing now. What I’d like to do now is give you a vision of where we want to go in the coming months and years.
First, we will continue to be a model of openness and transparency. The Public Affairs Office will continue to build strong working relationships with media partners to ensure good, accurate, and timely information is provided so that whether you get your information from traditional media or new media, you are getting an accurate and complete picture of what is happening here at the Cape Coral Police Department. We will also continue to publish and make available all of our agency publications like our Multi-Year Plan, our Annual Report, and our Annual Internal Affairs Report and we will promote them via social media to encourage people to read them, not just bury them on an obscure webpage. We will also talk about these reports and their contents to community groups and organizations as I and others from the Department make public appearances throughout the year.
Second, we are committed to continuously improving the content we create. We learned early on that it isn’t enough to just spit out facts, figures, name, and arrests. That gets boring quickly and people tune out. So, we have been making sure that we add photos, video, or audio whenever possible (and appropriate). We always have to be mindful of the integrity of our investigations and of the privacy and dignity of victims and we will never compromise those.
We are also working on the format of the information we put out there. In the last few months, we have crossed an interesting and telling line…More of you are viewing our content on mobile devices- smartphones and tablets, than laptops or desktops. The experts have been saying that “mobile is taking over” for a long time now. Their prognostication has finally come true. So, we are working on the format of our content to make it more easily readable on mobile devices. Regardless of the device you are on, we want you to enjoy the reading/viewing/listening experience.
Third, we are working to improve our technology in the Public Affairs Office. I wasn’t kidding when I said it was all done on a borrowed laptop and cell phones when we first started. Things have slowly improved over the past three years, one piece of equipment at a time. Just in the past couple of weeks, we receives the equipment to do a 3-camera shoot in our media room. Normally, this type of setup would be many thousands of dollars and require all kinds of equipment and personnel. We are doing with an iPad and three iPod touches. Best of all, its wireless so we can set it up anywhere. This will eventually give us a much more polished and professional product in a fraction of the time you’ll start seeing the fruits of this project later this year.
Recently, we were approved by Google to do live broadcasts to Youtube. This means, we could stream special events, news conferences, and breaking news LIVE. This is an exciting proposition to be able to show you video of things as they happen and we may experiment with this on a very limited basis in 2015. (It takes more than just plugging a webcam in and hitting go, and I don’t want to bring the Department’s Internet connection to its knees with a single video stream.) We are also looking at things like first-person cameras and aerial photography to see if they are valuable and can help us educate or inform our citizens in new and creative ways.
So, that’s it. The marching orders in the Public Affairs Office from the beginning were, “more accurate information, faster.” Everything that we have done and look to do in the future is done with that in mind. We embrace technology, not for technology’s sake. We look at it as a tool that enables the Department to get you the information you want and need quickly, easily, wherever you may be. It also allows us to make the presentation of that information more appealing, which encourages people to actually look at what we are doing (after all, we are just a Police Department, not a media or entertainment company). I hope you like what we are doing and what we are planning in the future. But, I am only one guy, and I can always use some good ideas. If you have any suggestions or questions, I’d encourage you to email me. Send your questions, comments, or suggestions to: email@example.com.
Next: Guest column from Captain Tony Sizemore
About the author:
Det. Sergeant Dana Coston is a 17 year law enforcement veteran who is assigned to the Office of the Chief of Police. He is the Public Affairs Officer for the Cape Coral Police Department. He also serves as the Department’s Webmaster and Social Media Manager, testing and evaluating platforms and technologies for use in the Cape Coral Police Department Social Media Program.
Det. Sergeant Coston previously served as a Patrol Officer, School Resource Officer, Detective assigned to the FBI Joint Terrorism Task Force, Patrol Sergeant, and Professional Standards Bureau Sergeant where he oversaw Personnel, Training, and Internal Affairs. He is an instructor for the Cape Coral Police Department in the areas of baton, firearms, and Media Relations, and has instructed all over SW Florida on gang identification and prevention, and the application of Social Media in Law Enforcement.
Det. Sergeant Coston holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Political Science and history from Emory University. He is a member of the International Association of Law Enforcement Planners and the National Information Officers Association. He is a certified Gang Specialist, FBI Domestic Human Intelligence Collector, and was an adjunct instructor to the FBI Academy teaching human source recruitment.