Social media does much to give a voice to anyone who wishes to air views, and has access to the Internet. I make that latter point, because going forward, ways could be found for groups with such access to pose questions and have it known who is posing them, if that is their wish.
Today, Commissioner Dr. Carl Williams offered to take questions for an hour. I won’t replay the conversations, which were mainly tagged with #Talkback; you can check the dialogues. Issues covered included illegal arms, police conduct, body cameras, community policies, Operation Tidal Wave, corruption, and some other points.
What seems important is for the police, at the highest level, to appear and be accessible to the general public. With that comes a certain openness and honesty. Social media users often have little patience for fluff, and the possibility for anonymity means that some can throw sharp barbs from the comfort of their ‘hiding place. Of course, that same feature means conversations could be tainted by ‘friendly’ questions posed by hirelings.
From my own perspective, I found the responses acceptable, within the limitations of space posed by Twitter. A similar session on Facebook may be better for allowing fuller conversations, but that would also be more demanding on the Commissioner and his staff.
Some logistical tweeks would help, for instance, a less generic hashtag, such as #AskCommishJa.
One questioner asked about protection if images of police transgressions were shared with JCF. We know that many people fear and distrust the police, so the essence of such concern shouldn’t be swept aside. I wondered if an anonymous dropbox, or equivalent would work. If such images led to legal action, then anonymity would have to broken, to at least some extent, for the ‘evidence’ to be admissible in court.
Another innovation may be to incorporate video, eg by using a Periscope feed.
Appreciation seemed to be widespread. No indication was given of any planned repeat session. Some felt more advance notice would help. I saw a notice early in the afternoon, for a session due to start at 3:30pm: that’s not helpful. But, let’s focus on positives, and welcome these baby steps.