How Law Enforcement Agencies Can Use Social Media To Connect With The Public

February 13, 2017

How Law Enforcement Agencies Can Use Social Media To Connect With The Public

Social media plays a huge role in the modern world.  Most of the population of the world uses Facebook daily.  Then there are the other major platforms like Instagram and Twitter.  These are great for our own private worlds but how can we use them in the world of law enforcement to better connect with the public?  Take a look.

Show Citizens What Being With Law Enforcement Is Like

More and more departments are launching social media campaigns using YouTube, Facebook, and/or other sources to show citizens what it is like to be a police officer.  These campaigns vary greatly in complexity.  Some departments have a member or members that focus daily on creating content such as videos to keep the public interested.  Others simply post regular photos or small clips from incidents, day to day events, and even small little moments from the field.  Sometimes it just helps to see an officer being a person too.

Officers Creating Campaigns

Some officers have gone out and created social media profiles of their own to connect with the public.  Before an officer starts creating media content related to work, they should speak with their department to see what is and isn’t allowed. 

Disaster/Major Alerts

One of the best uses of social media in law enforcement is to send out alerts.  Instead of running away during an incident, most people turn to social media in the modern world so that they can capture the incident or find out what is going on.  If you post social media alerts, people can get them rapidly.  People following the agency or department might even get them as notifications.

Missing Persons/Wanted Persons

Many departments already post both missing and wanted persons to their social media accounts.  This can get the publics attention much better than a 10 second news spot.  More people use their social media to get the news today than actually watch the news anyways.  So by posting missing persons or wanted persons to social media you are engaging the public and getting more eyes in the field.

Dispatching

Both Seattle Police Department and Seattle Fire Department post their dispatches on Twitter.  Seattle PD calls it Tweet by Beat and you can see calls by specific sectors.  Some information is censored for officer safety but it allows the public to be informed about what the police are doing.

Here is the link to the Seattle Police Department Edward 1 Twitter Feed: https://twitter.com/SeattlePDE1?ref_src=twsrc%5Egoogle%7Ctwcamp%5Eserp%7Ctwgr%5Eauthor

Utilizing social media like this is a fun way to get the public informed and for them to learn more about their area.

Recruiting

Most of the various social media platforms out there can be used for recruiting purposes.  For example, Instagram is a great platform.  Those who are interested in joining law enforcement will connect with Instagrams for police departments they are interested in and see the awesome photos posted and use it as inspiration.

There is a certain amount of people who will stumble upon that same Instagram and it will become their inspiration for their interest in joining the world of Law Enforcement.  Whether it is a picture of a SWAT team serving a high risk search warrant, or an officer helping a kid.  People get attracted to the field of law enforcement for a variety of reasons.

Soliciting Tips and Concerns

Some police departments are learning to take tips and concerns from their social media pages.  It is one of the best ways to find out how the public thinks a department should improve.  But others are going above that and soliciting this from those in its area.  They want the feedback.

By having a platform for people to voice their concerns and tips you are connecting with them.  You are also giving them something that they have probably been looking for for years.  However, you can’t just solicit the tips and concerns.  You need to do two things:

  • Respond and/or follow-up to make citizens feel heard

  • Carry out change from complaints and tips

Are you looking to connect with the public?  Chances are that social media is the tool that you are looking to use.  More and more people are using it to enhance their daily lives.  The best part about it?  Most social media platforms are free.  Start exploring how your agency or department can use social media today.

 

About the author:

Ian graduated Seattle University with a Bachelor's in Criminal Justice with a Specialization in Administration of Justice. He has held positions as an Auxiliary Department of Public Safety Officer, a Security Patrol Supervisor, and as an in-house security officer for a major medical center. Through all of this he has picked up a wealth of experience, training, and education that he is happy to pass on to others. Ian can be reached at ian@iandscofield.com.





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