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Networking: Are You Doing it Right?

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By Matthew Loux, criminal justice faculty at American Military University

One of the best ways for law enforcement to gain an advantage, whether it is solving a crime or looking for that next great job, is to network with colleagues.

There are several techniques law enforcement personnel can implement to seek out others within the law enforcement community. This article will outline techniques and venues officers and students can use to increase their exposure to others in the same field as well as become more involved in the law enforcement community. Law enforcement officers are often reluctant to broadcast their information for the world to see, so this article will focus more on professional tools rather than social media.

Benefits to Networking
There are numerous benefits to networking both inside and outside your peer group. The benefits of law enforcement networking include:

  • Strengthening relationships
  • Gaining access to resources such as publications
  • Career advancement
  • Support
  • Career opportunities outside your present career
  • Guidance from executives or other professionals
  • New ideas
  • Case investigation resources and exchange of information
  • Training classes
  • Certifications, and many others

LinkedIn
police officers shaking hands
LinkedIn is a great way to broadcast a user’s expertise for others to view. Once the user opens an account and inputs their profile information, the profile can be published based on the individual’s comfort level in making the information public or only viewable to their connections.

I currently have 1,158 direct connections that link me to more than 14 million people. That is an abundance of resources available to draw from, but also to offer support and assistance. LinkedIn also allows the user to:

  • Join groups in your particular niche to keep up-to-date on current trends
  • Follow companies you may be interested in working for or need assistance from in an investigation
  • Look for someone with expertise who you may want to acquire or need for an investigation
  • Search jobs you may be interested in
  • Simply keep in touch with those in your industry

Professional Organizations
There are numerous organizations that law enforcement and security professionals can join, depending on your area of expertise. Some of these organizations include:

This is not an all-inclusive list, but it gives you some great organizations to review. Most of the above-listed organizations have student memberships and provides students with the ability to network with those in their respective field.

Most of the organizations have local chapters that meet once a month to discuss current trends, cases, and network to become more proficient at sharing information. They also have the website tools to search for members across the country and throughout the world that are available to assist in investigations. These organizations are invaluable to law enforcement not only for the content they provide, but also the networking potential among members.

Other Law Enforcement Officers
One of the great attributes of law enforcement is the comradery among all facets of law enforcement, whether it is local, state or federal. If you work with officers from different departments, then exchange information and keep their information handy. Most of us have cell phones and it is easy to import a contact or update the contact information so you can access from anywhere.

I always put a note in the contact section concerning when and where I met the person and something interesting I learned from that person. The important part is exchanging information with other law enforcement officers, managers and even private-sector personnel.

Training
I have attended numerous training seminars, schools, and meetings and always take plenty of business cards. So many times I have seen seminars or meetings when there is no exchange of information, only to be contacted later asking for a contact number of someone to help. Many of the above-listed organizations have training seminars across the country and it serves as a great opportunity to network and build your contact list.

BlueLine
Another avenue to explore is the BlueLine, which was created by former Los Angeles Police Department Chief Bill Bratton, as a secure social network for law enforcement. The BlueLine allows officers to share their expertise and information securely. The site has instant messaging, video conferencing, and video capabilities. The BlueLine will require multiple verifications for law enforcement to join and the information will be stored in compliance with the U.S. Department of Defense and the FBI’s Criminal Justice Information Services.

Network, Network, Network
In order for law enforcement to effectively solve crimes, they have to work with other law enforcement officers, entities and organizations. To succeed it is imperative that you learn how to communicate with everyone and diligently exchange information because you never know when someone else needs your expertise or vice versa. I recommend students also network with their instructors, other students, local organizations, and their current peers. The benefits are extraordinary and I have seen it work first-hand. Take the initial step and start connecting with your peers and let me know if it works for you.

About the Author: Matthew Loux has been in law enforcement for more than 20 years and has a background in fraud, criminal investigation, as well as hospital, school, and network security. Matt has researched and studied law enforcement and security best practices for the past 10 year and is currently an adjunct faculty at American Military University. 

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