photo courtesy of ian britton via flickr
Information travels faster now than ever before, and you don’t have to be an AARP member to notice the change. According to Pew Research, 87% of adults in the United States use the internet. When seeking community news and information, they have countless sources to tap into – from social media to government run websites. For Law Enforcement, the challenge becomes, how to keep the citizens safe and informed, when competing with these sources.
This modern quandary has a modern solution based off an old concept: Crowdsourcing. Crowdsourcing comes from the private sector, but has proven useful in government innovation, citizen engagement, and keeping departments and agencies current. Crowdsourcing is a way to both connect to a large community efficiently, and to leverage their knowledge for problem solving. Creating and maintaining an online source for citizens to access the most current information about safety and law enforcement in their town empowers the community, and strengthens the force.
Foster Transparency The local community will stay apprised of the work law enforcement is doing one way or another. Departments that maintain a channel to share this information with the public are able to keep their citizens accurately informed.
Build Trust Not all law enforcement departments are trusted. Many have lost the faith of their community through real and perceived missteps. Trust can be regained by including the citizens in the work of keeping their streets safe. Government agencies at all levels utilize citizen engagement to strengthen trust, solve problems, and keep citizens informed. Police departments can benefit from the practice for all of the same reasons. By being included in the decision making process from the early stages, citizens become more likely to pay their taxes (Democracy Spot).
Community Policing This network of engaged citizens are now an asset. The New South Wales Police Force connected found that working with their community to solve crimes boosted information brought in about crimes by 20% (IACP). In a year and a half the Philadelphia Police Department made over 100 arrests based on help from their community. The PPD posts the information they have to an online source, and asks citizens for help (IACP).