4. Engage the troll in a direct dialogue - all the while remaining respectful – and become an example of a “Good Cop” to them. Disarming and it makes you – and us – look good to others following the discussion. It also tends to soften the troll’s attitude overall, since humanizing the profession naturally makes it harder to maintain feelings of contempt.
5. In the above vein, whenever possible use your real name. Again, it’s humanizing to readers following along and to your adversary. It also adds accountability, since anonymity tempts us to lower standards of behavior. If you absolutely have to be anonymous for some reason, vow to conduct your online self with only the highest honor.
6. See yourself as an educator, dispelling misconceptions and acting as an ambassador of the LE profession, of both the troll and other readers following.
7. Know your facts! Speaking with verifiable authority gives you the clear upper hand and garners support.
For better or worse, the age of participatory media is upon us. As members of a profession under constant media scrutiny, a lot of those “participants” are going to be against you. Becoming effective participants – and understanding the police role as public educators as well as law enforcers – yourselves will be important for the future of law enforcement.
About The Authors:
Althea Olson, LCSW has been in private practice in the Chicago suburbs since 1996. She has a Master of Social Work degree from Aurora University providing individual, couple, & group therapy to adolescents, adults, and geriatrics. Althea is also trained in Critical Incident Stress Management & is a certified divorce mediator.
Mike Wasilewski, MSW has been with a large suburban Chicago department since 1996. He holds a Master of Social Work degree from Aurora University and has served on his department’s Crisis Intervention & Domestic Violence teams. Mike is an adjunct instructor at Northwestern College.
Mike & Althea have been married since 1994 and have been featured columnists for Officer.Com since 2007. Their articles are extremely popular and they now provide the same training and information in person throughout the United States. This dynamic team was recently featured at the at the 2010 & 2011 ILEETA Conference & Exposition.
Out of their success has come the formation of More Than A Cop where the focus is providing consultation and trainings on Survival Skills Beyond The Street.