Social Sentinel Blog

Protect Public Safety Personnel from Calls for Violence Against Police

Posted by Dr. Gary J. Margolis on Jul 19, 2016 8:00:00 AM

Rodney King may have introduced digital media to the public safety equation, but social media has amplified the effects. Learn how to use social media threat alerts to protect police and public safety officers from calls for violence against police.

It's time for all of us to step up. In this post, I provide a few details on what we're doing, but here is what I would like you to do:

  • If you don't yet have a social media threat alert service - get one! Make sure it has a comprehensive library deeply focused on the language of harm (we do!).
  • If you are a client, activate your Local+TM service! Call us - we will help!
  • Don't forget to check the Sentinel SearchTM Library to make sure you have the right Topics turned on. See below for more details.


I was a relatively new police officer when Rodney King was assaulted by four Los Angeles police officers in 1991. I remember one of my supervisors commenting that this incident was going to change the way we policed, and it certainly had an impact. It was the introduction of digital media to the public safety equation. Within months of the ensuing Los Angeles riots, I recall stopping a car for a minor violation only to look up and see a woman on her front porch with a video camera taping me (one of those large hand-held video cameras that resembled a small shoe box). I didn’t know what to do, so I waved. I was so young...

thinblueline.jpeg Protect Public Safety Personnel from Calls for Violence Against Police

Things are different today. Every generation in every profession says their experience is not like the good ‘ole days, and with the proliferation of camera phones and social media, it’s certainly true for the public safety industry today. That's not a bad thing - it means we have evolved and will continue to evolve and even improve. But there are new challenges to address.

I was talking about my sadness at the current state of affairs with a good friend who is a police chief. He was sharing how tough the days following Dallas have been for his department. His immediate response was to step up and sooth, calm, and guide his officers, many afraid to walk out in uniform not knowing what threats they would face. It made me realize that everybody has been impacted and everyone needs to step up and do what they can given their sphere of influence.

Here at Social Sentinel, the sad events in Dallas, Baton Rouge, and Falcon Heights are helping us to understand emerging trends in the language of harm used on social media. We are here to help you protect your community. We are also, as always, translating what we are learning into critical additions to the behavioral key phrases found in our Sentinel Search Library and we are refining the exceptions and qualifiers around the terms and phrases that were already in the system.

The uptick in social media usage in the days following Dallas is, was, and remains significant. Our system is efficiently consuming and processing a 1200% increase in posts including an unprecedented volume of brazen public threats to police officers and demonstrators. Our Library is being updated minute by minute with what we are learning as we continue to help clients protect the safety and security of their communities and we want to help you maximize your use of the service so that you can protect those who protect us - cops, first responders, and the support personnel that make up the greater public safety team in all of our communities.

Threat Assessment Centers across the country have been issuing urgent notices to public safety agencies to pay attention to the threats made against police officers on social media. This is a new Duty of Care, and it's time to take it seriously.

Social Sentinel clients can continue to use our threat alert service to help protect police, first responders, and peaceful demonstrators by:

  • Turning on relevant Sentinel Search Library Topics  including Harm To Others/Anti-Police and Anti-Government, Hate, and Crowd Sourced Events.
  • Activating and updating your Local+ terms to include any new people, places, or local events that could be targets of anti-police threats. If you don't, you may miss threat alerts that you should have seen. Your dedicated client success manager can help guide you through this set-up. Call them!
  • Notify us with questions about alerts you have received. We are here to help you understand and refine your search parameters, if needed.


Paying attention to social media is a new Duty of Care for public safety teams. Using a social media threat alert service is invaluable in protecting our police, public safety, and security officers. It should be part of every safety and security strategy in these increasingly complex and vulnerable times. If you do not yet have a social media threat alert service, get in touch with us.

To learn more about the questions to ask social media monitoring companies or (better yet) social threat alert providers before you buy, check out our Questions to Ask document.


Or, schedule a demonstration.

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Topics: Public Safety

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