Police Learn Propaganda Tactics at Internet Conference

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Joe Wright
Activist Post

The exponential power of the Internet, and particularly the overwhelming force of social media, already has earned the attention of governments around the world. When Hillary Clinton declared that the U.S. was not telling its story correctly to the rest of the world — alluding to the Cold War when the U.S. gov’t properly did so, according to her — she was signaling for a ramp up in propaganda domestically and abroad.

The sixth annual Social Media, the Internet and Law Enforcement (SMILE) conference at the Omni Hotel in Richmond Virginia made the dissemination of propaganda a focal point. Being connected online puts police on the streets of the virtual world, which offers an opportunity to engage in news management. As stated by Police Chief Rick Clark: “You can’t afford not to.”

However, beyond merely walking a virtual beat and engaging their fellow citizens when called upon, emphasis was also placed on tactics for monitoring discussions for criminal activity through social media outlets such as Facebook, Twitter and YouTube. This is a trend that is trickling down from the federal government who has come under fire from civil liberties groups for creating a range of social media task forces and initiatives; the Electronic Privacy Information Center directly took on DHS, seeking disclosure of records detailing the Department of Homeland Security’s media monitoring activities.

In a statement right out of 1984, Richmond Times-Dispatch writer Zachary Reid says while covering the SMILE conference: “Who gets to tell the truth was the central theme of the day.” (Source

There were some interesting session titles offered to future cyber cops on virtual foot patrol seeking ways to disseminate their findings:
  • “Multi-Agency Knowledge Sharing Through Social Media” 
  • “The Dark Side of Facebook: Online Radicalization and Security Implications for Law Enforcement”
  • “The Social Tightrope Between Building Community Participation and Being Big Brother.”

The “radicalization” meme continues to grow, especially as law enforcement is being trained by the federal government that the new enemy who is to appear on terror watch lists is not wearing a turban and living in an Afghan cave, but is your overly patriotic neighbor, perhaps a returning veteran, and — heaven forbid — someone with a Ron Paul bumper sticker who carries a constitution in their pocket as a discussion point during ever-increasing random checkpoints and TSA grope/chat downs.

And the Internet is apparently the biggest radicalizing threat of all, as just about anyone can apparently find a terrorist recruiter and enlist in a training camp, according to the Pentagon. (Source) That is, if you’d like to collude with government agents to become a patsy for their latest false flag event, as has happened nearly every time, but I digress.

Apparently little conference discussion time was given to the full definition of truth, namely that it is not based on opinions or fabrications, but on actual facts and data that is open for all to examine and debate — it’s called living in a democratic society, not a totalitarian one. Based on what we know about this conference (and some of it was closed to media and the public), the scales of justice and truth are dipping away from freedom. It is the story that matters most. Richmond Police Chief Bryan T. Norwood stated it clearly:

‘We try to tell our own story,’ Norwood said. ‘It’s a real positive way to interact.’

And in words that any prospective tyrant would love:

(Police Chief) Clark said he was lucky to work in a town without a daily newspaper or television station. He said he thought his department’s website was his town’s news source, at least on police information. 

Having a police station as the only source of news is even worse than having cable TV news which masquerades as something different than a political agenda dressed up in pseudo-debate. The guarantee of fair, balanced and truthful information sounds something like what the police division in Milwaukee says about their own website The Source, which claims “to give you the genuine, unfiltered information from us.” 


The Richmond Police Department is taking their news management to another level by creating its own video production studio. Perhaps for instructional purposes they can visit some of the many propaganda videos put out by the federal government, justifying everything from Japanese internment camps to the latest fake bogeyman tied to al Qaeda or whatever other terrorist group fits the mold. But now that a bipartisan congressional bill has been crafted which would make it perfectly OK to use government propaganda on its own citizens, we can only expect a full rollout.

Because banning propaganda “Ties the Hands of America’s Diplomatic Officials, Military, and Others by Inhibiting Our Ability to Effectively Communicate In a Credible Way.” (Source)

As to the more discrete forms propaganda has taken, host of the SMILE conference, LAwS Communications, states their mission quite clearly on their website:

What we Do 

LAwS Communications provides interactive media consultation to law enforcement. We offer media expertise at all levels, traditional and interactive. We specialize in social media strategy consultation and training- through LAwS Academy – for law enforcement agencies. LAwS Communications is the producer of The SMILE Conference and the creator of ConnectedCOPS.net.

LAwS Communications 

LAwS Communications has been providing interactive media advice to law enforcement since 2005. LAwSComm provides excellent service and support exclusively to the law enforcement profession through training, strategy consultation and The SMILE Conference. 

The SMILE Conference is the leading conference devoted to social media, Internet and law enforcement initiatives. The SMILE Conference has pioneered the adoption of social media by law enforcement agencies across the world for public outreach, crime prevention, and forensics. In conjunction with the ConnectedCops Blog, the SMILE Conference has become both the go-to and most trusted source by law enforcement agencies worldwide.  

LAwSComm’s expert training is delivered through the LAwS Academy. Training is tailored to each agency’s needs and delivered in half-day, full-day or multiple-day sessions. (Source)

Open Source communication technologies available today allow organizations to efficiently gather and distribute information like never before. LAwS Communications works with law enforcement professionals to help make sense of the tools available, help agencies craft a plan and social media policy as well as provide the training needed. 

LAwS Communications can help law enforcement organizations not only understand why an agency should take advantage of social media technologies, but also how to leverage these vast resources. 

The agencies that are effectively using these tools are shrinking their communities, improving communication with citizens and enhancing their reputations through the transparency and accountability. Other agencies are developing sophisticated methods for investigation, crime solving and prevention. Police departments, in particular, have an opportunity to better educate their communities about who they are and what they do and to therefore increase and improve communication with the public they serve. 

LAwS Communications properties include The SMILE (Social Media the Internet and Law Enforcement) Conference, the internationally known blog – ConnectedCOPS.net, and the C.O.P.P.S. Social Media Method. (Source)

Police appear to be lamenting the fact that they are put into a defensive posture and forced to react to the news and to events. This role is by design, however. They are there to protect and serve — which means to respond when called upon by the public who is their boss. When the role of police becomes one where they are crafting media plans and leveraging new technology that can easily distort or spin facts, then they are not “enhancing their reputations through transparency and accountability;” they are doing exactly the opposite. 

I would suggest that everyone visit their local police department and find out what type of social media and Internet and/or news management divisions they have. Remind them about a part of the Constitution rapidly fading away in our high-tech era — it’s called the First Amendment right to free speech. It still exists, and all methods of pre-crime evaluation, speech monitoring, and interrogations based on words alone is anathema to the oath they swore.

Or, perhaps you disagree. Do you feel that police monitoring of social media, as well as providing their own media operations will increase transparency and accountability? Will crimes be prevented and make us safer? Please leave your comments below.

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