Last week, the New Haven and Yale Police Departments joined the social media revolution with BlueLine, an online professional network linking police officers and departments from across the country.
A Thursday press release from NHPD spokesman David Hartman announced that the department would begin to integrate the website into its standard communication systems. Like most other social media platforms, BlueLine allows individual police officers to create and join online groups with officers from similar regions, jobs or area of focus. The NHPD will use these networks to share information in real-time with nearby city departments — such as those in Stamford, Hartford and Bridgeport — and university forces like the YPD.
“BlueLine is a fantastic way for us to stay connected and continuously share information,” NHPD Chief Dean Esserman said in the release. “We’ll save time and money by video conferencing security with colleague[s] from across the state and we’ll be able to quickly build a network of skill sets and areas of expertise that will help us keep the state of Connecticut safe.”
Launched last month by Bill Bratton, Jack Weiss and David Riker, BlueLine allows users to build their own profiles and interact with each other through instant messaging, desktop sharing and video conferencing systems.
The site is already off to a fast start. In just its first month, the site has generated thousands of users, representing officers and chiefs from each of the fifty states.
“These things go viral,” Weiss said. “We’ve been working it from every angle, but the real growth that we’re seeing is organic. Officers use the platform, realize that it’s great and then invite a bunch of their colleagues.”
The use of BlueLine continues two NHPD trends that have been increasingly prevalent under Esserman’s leadership: police innovation and enhanced communication. Recently, the NHPD announced the expansion of its CompStat meetings and conference calls in hopes of making valuable crime and public safety information easily accessible for all departments in the area.
YPD Assistant Chief Steven Woznyk said in an email to the News on Monday that the department has used other forms of technology like Bulldog Mobile and YaleTip to facilitate dialogue between University police and students, but that BlueLine will give Yale police a stronger connection to the NHPD. Additionally, Woznyk said that BlueLine will help Yale communicate with schools like Harvard, Brown and UPenn which face similar campus-related safety concerns.
Woznyk added that, though communication between the YPD and other departments has historically been “tremendous,” he hopes BlueLine will enhance existing working relationships, as well as to form new ones.
Weiss said his experience working in all three branches of government on both the federal and city levels alerted him to workflow gaps in the public sector.
“In the private sector, there are lots of great options for collaboration and connection,” Weiss said. “The public sector has largely been ignored by the networking revolution that Facebook and LinkedIn started. We feel very strongly that public safety is the most significant element of what government provides domestically, and we wanted to create a vehicle so that when one police department innovates, others can learn about it.”
Bratton has served as the Commissioner of the Boston and New York Police Departments and Chief of the Los Angeles Police Department.
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