10 ideas, best practices for police departments to create videos
Law enforcement agencies of all sizes can and should create videos to share with their community about the work they do and the impact they are having
SAN DIEGO, Calif. — Law enforcement department-created video is a way for police departments, especially small departments, to tell their story directly to the community, build trust and create positive news for the department. Chief Christopher Cook, with the White Settlement (Texas) Police Department, and Officer Zhivonni Cook, with the Mansfield (Texas) Police Department, discussed their experiences creating, publishing and sharing video at the 2023 International Association of Chiefs of Police conference.
Video helps law enforcement agencies build credibility with their community. Sharing positive messages about how police departments serve and take care of their community.
“If you do this [video] well, the whole profession benefits,” Chief Cook said. “Video allows us to connect with a diverse set of audiences. Videos will help us demystify the profession.”
After describing the importance of video and sharing some statistics about social media and video, the presenters shared ideas, tips and best practices on video creation and sharing. Chief Cook invited attendees to contact him or visit his website for more information on video production.
Here are 10 tips law enforcement leaders can apply today.
- Video needs to support strategy: Any video needs to align with the department’s communication strategy. If a video idea doesn’t fit with the strategy, come up with another idea.
- Have a hook: The first few seconds need to grab a viewer’s attention.
- Know different video formats: Chief Cook described different short formats for videos including, leader talks, real-life stories, PSAs, crime tips, media packages and humor.
- Showcase the diversity of the department: Don’t limit video talent to the chief and the PIO. Invite other members of the department to discuss the work they are doing for the community.
- Come out from the backdrop: When filming, step out from the backdrop to give the video depth and a more professional look.
- High-quality audio matters: Minimize background noise and if you can, use a microphone to capture high-quality video as you film.
- Use music and effects: Short videos and images, combined with music and some special effects can elevate the viewer’s experience and engagement with the video.
- Utilize a template: Chief Cook uses MotionVFX, a video editing program, to create introductions and full videos with reusable templates. The templates include motion graphics, transitions and text animations. Chief Cook believes that the special effects help the department engage with a younger audience.
- Distribute videos far and wide: Upload department videos to YouTube, Instagram and Facebook, as well as the department’s website to get a wide reach. Chief Cook also recommended creating a playlist to catalog videos.
- Video equipment: Chief Cook and Officer Cook described the specific equipment they use for filming, including cameras, drones, lighting, microphones, teleprompters and tri-pods they use for filming. They also made sure to remind the audience that they can begin creating video today with just a smartphone and a social media channel for distribution.
Video formats for law enforcement
Here are specific video formats Chief Cook and Officer Cook described:
- Media packages: Film informative and authoritative videos that you deliver directly to local media. A media package, which is a ready-to-publish video, like a body camera clip of an officer rescuing a passenger from a vehicle on fire, makes it easier for the media to feature local law enforcement.
- On-the-job: Chief Cook produces a bi-weekly series, often based on comments and questions asked on the department’s Facebook page. Chief Cook scripts the video, talks directly to the camera using a teleprompter. He emphasized the importance of good lighting and a teleprompter.
- #WSPDTV: White Settlement PD primarily uses this series to highlight the great work done by their officers. The department combines dispatch audio and body camera footage to create compelling and informative videos. They also use this series to request crime tips from the community.
- Documentaries: A documentary can be anything that might be relevant to the department and build a relationship with the community. For example, the White Settlement PD created a video about the history of the department’s badge. Another popular video was a compilation of smartphone videos from the Police Memorial Candlelight Vigil. The video from the vigil brought the breathtaking scale of the event back to the community.
- Educational: Though anything can be educational, Chief Cook recommended a few topics like speed enforcement, move-over, DWI enforcement and lock your doors as potential themes for department-created videos.
- Crime tips: White Settlement PD creates videos to solicit crime tips from the community. Dash cam or body cam video, along with instructions to the public, helps the department identify suspects.