Posted on July 1, 2007, Ron Whitaker Vancouver Police Using Second Life as a Recruiting Tool
The Vancouver Police Department has become the first real police force to join in the virtual online community, and they’re doing it in an effort to recruit more tech-savvy officers to their police force. This past Thursday (June 28), the department went public with a recruitment seminar inside Second Life. If you’re not familiar with Second Life, I’d advise you to move out of that cave you live in and realize that it’s one of the most popular MMO / alternate universe games on the net today. The current officers involved in the seminar have avatars dressed in custom-designed VPD uniforms, badges, and radios, and are trained to be familiar with the ins and outs of the virtual society.
Why recruit this way? According to Inspector Kevin McQuiggin, head of the department’s Tech Crimes Division, says the department needs more web-savvy recruits, and Second Life players tend to fit that requirement. Why do they need these web-savvy recruits?
McQuiggan says that internet and technology related crimes are common, and that almost every major crime involves technology in some way. “It’s important for us, as an organization, to keep abreast of modern technology — both from an educational standpoint and an outreach standpoint, and from an investigative standpoint,” McQuiggin says.
But McQuiggan sees a place for more than just recruiting in Second Life. In fact, he sees a place for a virtual, Second Life police force online. “It’s going to be interesting when we start to receive crime reports — you know, harassment cases or things like that — in the virtual world,” he says. “How are we going to deal with them? There are jurisdictional issues. Where does the crime occur? Where is the suspect? Where is the victim?” McQuiggin says. “We want accountability but if it’s spread all over the world like that it makes it very difficult for us.”
The inspector knows this will be complicated, so for now, he’s just focusing on recruiting. McQuiggan concluded, “It’s to get recruits. I just need smart, tech-savvy people.”