The Norman Transcript

Crime/Courts

June 12, 2012

A blue wave of change Cleveland County law enforcers join move toward social media alerts

NORMAN — The Norman Police Department has joined several other Oklahoma law enforcement and government agencies in using a Nixle, a digital mass notification system.

The free www.nixle.com service allows agencies to issue instant alerts to subscribed residents via text messages and emails.

The Norman Police Department had not yet issued its first Nixle notification by Monday evening, but Police Chief Keith Humphrey said he aims to keep the public aware.

“Our goal is really to improve our communication,” Humphrey said. “I think we have really good communications with the community, but this will enhance it.”

Lauri Stevens, a social media strategist at LAwS Communications, a Boston-area company, said law enforcement agencies nationwide are beginning to embrace this mindset. The movement even has a name: the blue wave of change.

“I think that law enforcement agencies are picking up on social media exponentially faster than they were a year ago,” Stevens said. “Even the ones that are thinking they don’t want to go there realize they have to. Social media isn’t really a choice; it’s like saying I’m not going to use email.”

She distinguished Nixle from social media — which differs from Nixle in its interactivity — though she said the service is often a first step.

As agencies experience success with Nixle, she said, some of the more social officers begin to wonder what might happen if their departments moved to other services such as Facebook — which Norman police already have done.

“There are a few maverick cops around the world who have built really strong relationships with citizens through social media,” Stevens said. “It’s a real organic sort of process. Agencies, individual officers are seeing the benefits of doing that, so they’re being pulled in that direction to be more social, more interactive.”

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