sworn officer before granting access to the site.

PoliceOne has already built a member registry of 220,000 officers, according to Dippell. In building the video platform, Dippell said it was important to maintain the privacy of that community, since video content might include sensitive police tactics.

In many cases, everyone benefits when information is opened to a broader audience online. But when it comes to specific police tactics - knowledge that's only effective when kept relatively private - information sharing requires a delicate balance of openness and discretion. The goal is to reach more law enforcement officials without reaching potential criminals.

While BLUtube's privacy wall helps keep sensitive content from leaking out, it also prevents certain comments from getting in. BLUtube's typical viewer has a positive opinion of law enforcement, Dippell said, and won't leave the provocative comments the YouTube melee feeds on.

"There's a certain kind of user for whom BLUtube serves as a kind of escape," Dippell said. "Historically if you search YouTube or Google Video, you're going to find stuff with comments that are anti-police - that's the kind of sensationalistic stuff out there, so it tends to rise to the top."

Dave Smith, PoliceOne's director of multimedia and seminars, a Chicago-based law enforcement trainer, is an industry expert producing original content for BLUtube. Smith has been spreading the word about BLUtube at training sessions and conferences around the country.

"The startup has been intense, and some agencies are a little bit hesitant," Smith explained. "A lot of them don't want their agencies exposed to criticism."

Smith, who began producing police training videos in the early 1980s, is working on a series of police narratives, filming officers as they recall especially tough, and instructive, moments in their careers. The stories will be shared on BLUtube and on sister site PoliceOne TV.

While some agencies are initially wary of granting access, Smith said, PoliceOne's track record and its focus on working with people who already have a presence in the police training industry is what ultimately opens many doors.

"With my name recognition, it does help because once people know me, they know where I'm coming from," he said.

Getting recognized can be tougher for Smith than other trainers, he said, until he dons a pair of aviators and enthusiastically introduces himself as his alter ego, "Buck Savage," a bumbling but helpful Arizona State Trooper whose tongue-in-cheek (a la Dukes of Hazzard) training tips have survived despite their campiness and early '80s vintage. Incidentally "Buck Savage - Spare Tire" is one of BLUtube's top featured videos.

New Recruits

Six months after launching BLUtube, 150 to 175 new users signed on to PoliceOne every day, Dippell said. "BLUtube really energized a lot of people," Dippell said. "There's a huge viral effect. We may have had 10 officers at a department who may have been on the site, but now there are 100."

As with YouTube, the potential to build a community of users around online video may prove to be its most notable feature. Ford sees a need to bring police officers together into a secure online community and is encouraged so far to see BLUtube doing that.

"Law enforcement really is a tight-knit community, so the training component and the community component blend," he said.

Most user-contributed videos today are "dash cam" footage of traffic stops or TV news segments. Ford wants to augment that collection with video from professional trainers and slick minidocumentaries.

"BLUtube is really a first component," said Ford. "If it's a platform for delivering video, then the next step is to create video that meets training needs, and extend BLUtube so it

Jim McKay  |  Associate editor