Follow Me To The Police Station
Local police departments have attempted many citizen outreach, public relation, and collaboration strategies over the past couple of decades for the purpose of O.C.G.A. creating improved and productive relationships with communities. This philosophy is designed to engage the public on various fronts with the ultimate goal of becoming a trusted, legitimate, and effective partner in crime and safety.
Think back to when you first started seeing bicycle patrols, citizen police academies, neighborhood watch programs, gun collection drives, youth academies, etc… These are all examples of the police attempting to engage the community on a more basic level for the common and beneficial goal of making their cities and towns safer and more stable… which is known as community policing.
Why community policing?
Because citizens are more likely to trust, feel confident in, and collaborate with police, if police are actively providing time, resources, and information in a transparent manner about local issues. Conversely, if the police understand that they have a collaborative and productive relationship with the community, they will come together with the community to help address specific and important crime and disorder issues they both encounter on a daily basis. Just as beat officers can’t be everywhere for everybody, police have also struggled in the past with actively engaging and encountering a large number of citizens for “positive” outreach.
With the innovations provided by internet technology, and the research conducted on the effectiveness of community policing, police have begun to adopt social media as a new form of communication and engagement with the public. Specifically, police departments view Twitter as an easy, fast, and effective means of getting information to the general public on many levels. Furthermore, citizens can reciprocate the kindness by offering information and updates to police from their vantage points. But what does all of this really mean for you?
Think about it… there’s a massive pile-up on a major road you use to get to work… police tweet about it. A prisoner escapes near a school… police tweet about it. There’s a rash of home invasions in your elderly parents’ neighborhood… police tweet about it. And that’s just simple public safety messages.
How about a scenario where there is a youth academy one weekend where police officers educate and mentor middle school children about bullying, but you and your child could not attend. However, the police staff records the event including the Q&A at the end. Then that video, important downloadable information, as well as a link to the police department’s website (where you can sign up and request a police officer to come to your child’s school to talk about bullying) is tweeted out.