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Member of the Week: Tom Le Veque – Police Sergeant, City of Arcadia

Tom Le Veque is all kinds of awesome. Awesome public servant, really intelligent, and making a big difference in his community. I caught up with him at Gov2.0LA (where he lives). He has been a Police Sergeant at City of Arcadia in California for the past 20 years and is making great strides using Web 2.0 tools and better protecting and connecting his community.

Check out his interview!

1.) What was your path to law enforcement?

As a parent, I can now better appreciate the importance of keepsakes from your childhood. After graduating from the police academy, my mom gave me a framed drawing that I created sometime around second grade. The picture depicted a police officer and his patrol car and was titled, “When I grow up, I want to be a Police Officer.” I am pretty certain that my path was chosen long before I realized! My career journey has been a great ride – from Police Explorer & Cadet, to Officer, and the last 20 years as a Sergeant.

2.) What awesome projects are you working on now?

Coordinating the Social Media presence for my agency is an ancillary duty for me. My day job is as a supervisor in the Detective Bureau. Working this assignment keeps me in the loop of agency activity and crime trends, leading to many of our posts. I am working hard to incorporate several more members of our department in the daily writings, responses, and monitoring of our Social Media platforms – succession planning, if you will. Up next for us to explore will be use of video and participating on YouTube. We are also looking to partner with other departments within the city, as well as our local school district.

Another on-going project is promoting the use of Social Media to other law enforcement agencies. This venture has become a hobby of sorts for me, and I am quite passionate about the benefits of public safety participation in Social Media. I take advantage of every opportunity to influence fellow law enforcement officers in the fact that Social Media participation is not just for our teens anymore. Law enforcement has an opportunity to touch their respective communities in a manner that is real and immediate, never seen before in my career. I am excited about this opportunity and hope to encourage others to join the Social Media “Revolution.”

3.) What have been some of your most memorable experiences in law enforcement?

Each stage of a career for a police officer offers unique opportunity for memories and experiences, mine has been no different. Be it by making a great arrest, your first foot chase, receiving an award or commendation, seizing large sums of money or drugs, contributing to or solving a complex investigation – take your pick. Most memorable for me were the years I spent as Traffic Supervisor and riding a police motorcycle. This assignment partnered me with many great officers, as well as an opportunity to engage the community through traffic safety programs and projects, truly “making a difference” at our schools and in the city.

On the flip side, police officers are often exposed to a great deal of negativity and the unpleasant side of life. Dealing with this aspect of the job never gets any easier, but as you grow in your career, you learn to better deal with each situation. Probably the worst experiences for me have been calls involving death notifications, child abuse and domestic violence cases, and deaths of fellow officers. Focusing on how to help prevent these types of incidents and working to assist the victims has been a great outlet.

4. You have an awesome blog, Facebook page, and Twitter feed. What tips do you have for others in law enforcement that are starting out and want to aspire to your level of social media awesomeness?

Thank you for the kind words! Like any job or assignment, you must enjoy what you do. If you are not willing to devote yourself to a task, the end result will be mediocre at best. Anyone that is going to participate in Social Media on behalf of their agency must be interested in the topic and willing to commit more than just a periodic glance at the program. True participation means active engagement, listening, and responding in a genuine, professional, and timely manner. You can’t throw a Facebook page up or create a Twitter account and step away. These platforms will not run themselves without content, creativity, and interaction.

Your community expects law enforcement to be available 24/7, and that belief may extend to an “official” Social Media presence. Be sure to clearly state on your platform that the site or page is not monitored at all hours and for emergencies or calls for service, dial 911 or contact the agency directly. It is important to realize that once you establish a presence, this is indeed another avenue of communication with your agency. In that same regard, you are speaking on behalf of your organization no different than you would be in person! The best advice regarding an officer’s use of Social Media came from Chief Rick Braziel, Sacramento Police Department (CA) – “Don’t embarrass the department.” This one simple statement delivers a common sense approach to both personal and professional Social Media policy!

Lastly, don’t reinvent the wheel. Do some homework and look for examples from other law enforcement and government agencies. Use websites like GovLoop, Cops 2.0, ConnectedCOPS, and the International Association of Chiefs of Police, that are devoted to topical information and discussion on the use of Social Media. Define your Social Media participation so that it best fits with your agency and community. Take the best of the many growing examples you will explore!

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Tarryn Reddy

Great work! Thanks for all your hard work, keep us posted on your progress with Social Media promotion to help get the public safety message across!

Kristy Dalton

Yo Tom! Tomorrow I’m meeting with Reno PD in preliminary discussions to start their social media outreach. I’d love to connect with you more sometime for your advice.

Tom Le Veque

Thanks for the great intro Lauren! You, Steve, and the GovLoop crew deserve a big tip of the hat! Sites like GovLoop assist in the development of SM platforms at all levels, including local like ours.

Bandar, Shannon, and Tarryn, thanks to each of you for the nod!

Reno PD will no doubt benefit from your guidance Kristy. With some buy-in from their boss and finding the right personnel to partner with, the PD should fit well into the Reno presence that you have established. Look forward to sharing whatever I can with you!