Last May, Officer.com hosted thousands of viewers as the first site to offer live online video streaming of the 21st annual Candlelight Vigil at the National Law Enforcement Officers' Memorial in Washington, D.C. Online viewers registered from all over the world including Australia, Japan, Great Britain and Russia to watch the live ceremony honoring law enforcement officers who died in the line of duty. The local and international success of that event reinforced that law enforcement both in the United States and overseas was interested in connecting with its peers. Following that note a few months later, Officer.com, the official online partner and sister news site to Law Enforcement Technology magazine, unveiled its most recent tool to serve the needs of law enforcement members and support their mission: The Squad Room.Nixle is to Twitter as Squad Room is to Facebook
Like Nixle, Squad Room allows local, county and state law enforcement and government agencies to connect outside of the mainstream networks, building a foundation for info exchange made for the policing community.
However, unlike Facebook, the Squad Room promotes a more professional connection.
"Where Facebook's 'back end' is set up to promote playing games, taking polls and microblogging to your family and friends, the Squad Room offers a slightly more controlled environment promoting a social atmosphere that centers around a given profession: law enforcement," Officer.com Editor-in-Chief Frank Borelli, who is also a retired police officer, explains.
Continuing in its dedicated mission to back the police brethren, Officer.com built the site to promote networking and communication between law enforcement members both professionally and socially.
Created with the vision of making an online community that functions like the station's squad room, Officer.com's Squad Room offers membership to law enforcement of all ranks, families of law enforcement and other police supporters.Unique space for a unique job
The Squad Room, a free service, was set up because law enforcement needs a special environment to exchange information.
Borelli explains that individuals not familiar with the idiosyncrasies of police work do not always understand what professionals go through. "The job we do is unique and those who do it are equally unique," Borelli says. "The Squad Room offers those in law enforcement, as well as industry professionals who support it, an opportunity to exchange information and views about specific topics related to the work." The Squad Room provides a relatively judgment-free networking place, as opposed to mainstream sites like Facebook and MySpace.
However, like other social networking sites, the Squad Room offers users the ability to interact by sharing information, photos, videos and more. As an online community, Squad Room is able to virtually connect users beyond their precinct's community, keeping the law enforcement industry linked.
Users can create groups that share common interests or affiliations, upload or stream live videos, and hold discussions in forums on a litany of policing topics. Members can create virtual friendships that span the globe so experience, knowledge and best practices around the world can be discussed.
Additionally, the ability to create special interest groups within the law enforcement structure makes the Squad Room more applicable to users from specialized units, such as K-9, aviation, motors, etc.
Squad Room provides a more private platform than mainstream sites such as Facebook or MySpace, where officer privacy may be threatened by placing too much personal information in the hands of citizens.
Industry professionals are also participating in information sharing, including posting pertinent equipment information, training opportunities, learning experiences and more. On a more local level, members could be informed about a friend in another state who received a commendation for exceptional performance, for example.