Policy and Guidelines for Email Discussion Groups
Please note that the Email Discussion Groups should NOT BE USED for reporting crimes in progress or any emergency.
If you witness a crime in progress or are experiencing an emergency, call 9-1-1 immediately!
The Metropolitan Police Department began utilizing Yahoo discussion groups in March 2004. Since then, thousands of members of the community have joined the various sites. An online group was set up in all seven districts and the area patrolled by the third district substation officers. In addition to those eight groups, there are specialized groups. Those groups include:
- a site designed for outreach to families of homicide victims and is managed by MPD’s Victims Services Unit;
- a site for businesses in the District for alerts on crime patterns or trends and is managed by the Criminal Investigations Division;
- a site designed for outreach to community members of the Asian, Latino, Deaf & Hard of Hearing, Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, and Transgendered Population and is managed by the Special Liaison Unit of MPD.
The purpose of the police-community Yahoo email discussion groups is to allow police officials an online venue for collecting and sharing information with members of their individual police districts, 7 days a week, 24 hours a day.
The discussion groups aid in:
- increasing awareness,
- reducing crime and the fear of crime, and
- improving community relations.
The method of communication allows residents and officials to communicate back and forth around the clock, which eliminated concerns from previous years of not knowing which tour of duty members could call their local officials to report concerns. Police officials and watch commanders are able to forward alerts for public safety; information about community meetings; changes to staff; and details about upcoming events. The site is also used to connect other city officials with the concerns that can improve the quality of life in local neighborhoods. For example, staff from the Mayor’s Office of Community Relations (MOCRS) enjoy a successful relationship with the community by keeping members informed of Operation Fix-Its. They also are able to log in complaints and concerns from the community to generate ideas for future projects and to serve as a liaison with other service-providing agencies to address matters of concern.
Who Can Join?
Anyone is welcomed to join and maintain membership with the police-community email discussion group, as long as the member’s participation is in compliance with the overall goals of the group (see “Purpose” listed below). People who sign up for membership in a particular district email list group are expected to be stakeholders of that specific district.
How to Join?
There are two ways to join:
- Users can join by simply sending a blank email to the automated Yahoo subscription address (found below or the Yahoo home page for each site); once the blank email message is sent, users must follow the Yahoo confirmation instructions and receive approval from MPD to become a member.
- The second way to join is by visiting the Yahoo home site for each group (found on MPD’s website), and with a free Yahoo email account, users can click the blue button on the top right-hand corner of the home page, which reads: [JOIN THIS GROUP]. Yahoo’s automated system will then ask users to provide a short sentence explaining the reason for joining the group. MPD will automatically receive the info from Yahoo and will review and approve or deny membership within one business day.
The number one reason users are denied membership is because the user is found to be a spammer that is not affiliated with the District of Columbia. Other reasons include past history of spamming or abusing the sites, a history of promoting products or services that are not related to public safety or a user name or email address that is offensive or misleading (e.g., policechief @yahoo.com)
Members are restricted from posting messages to the site that:
- contain information related to any active or ongoing investigation. This includes any eyewitness accounts. If users wishes to share tips with the department, they should call (202) 727-9099.
- consist of illegal spamming;
- promote the sale of services and products, particularly those that are not designed to improve upon public safety;
- are combative and threatening in nature;
- are confidential and will infringe upon a person’s right to privacy (particularly victims);
- provide information that could jeopardize a criminal investigation;
- insult members of the community or police officials (e.g., profanity, name-calling, discriminatory, inflammatory, gossip, hearsay, statements known by MPD staff to be nonfactual, etc.)
- are deemed untrue or unreasonable and irrational by email discussion group moderators (i.e., messages posted out of anger or revenge, as opposed to out of concern for public safety)
- have been repeatedly addressed by police officials, but are not to the liking of the member (i.e., if a police official provides an official explanation to a request, a member will not be allowed to continue to force the issue.)
- override or attempt to override the authority of police officials;
- vocalize a political or religious opinion or promote a political or religious agenda.
- are not public-safety related.
- promote commercial or personal web sites or blogs.
- are petitioning others to target or take action against a specific person (unless this involves an activity that requires community statements, like court watch projects).
- include photographs of people and/or property that are the subject of criminal activity. Those kinds of messages should be directed to the district’s commander.
- contain inquiries from the news media/press..
MPD also reserves the rights to determine other restrictions, based on action that can cause membership to decline if allowed to continue, like back and forth banter or debates that are subject to cause each member of the group to receive 10 or messages in a single day on a heated topic, where most members believe that the exchange of words fall under the “agree to disagree” category.
Other Information About the Email Discussion Groups
- Email Discussion Groups are managed through collaboration between MPD’s Public Information Office, Investigative Services Bureau and the Office of Community Outreach.
- Moderators are trained staff from Community Outreach and the Strategic Services Bureau.
- More information about the MPD Email Discussion Groups can be found on the MPD website by clicking on PSA and Patrol Districts from the home page or by visiting mpdc.dc.gov/emailgroups.
Community Outreach Coordinators
- Carolyn L. Smith, First District, (202) 698-0315
- Officer Rhonda Hardy, Second District (202) 730-1901
- Marco Santiago, Third District, (202) 497-1060
- Derek Staten, Fourth District, (202) 270-1640
- Fayette Vaughn-Lee, Fifth District, (202) 698-0188
- Julia Irving, Sixth District, (202) 698-1315
- Lendia Johnson, Seventh District, (202) 439-5475