I have often talked and spoken about the benefits of law enforcement using social media. I think most of us who use it, recognize what a powerful tool social media can be. Law enforcement uses social media for many reasons. We use it to check the backgrounds on our recruits; for investigations; to educate our citizens; to provide information; for homeland security purposes; to market our departments and dozens of other reasons.
We in law enforcement have used social media recently as a counter balance for all of the negativity directed toward us in the media and through social media. We post information about all of the positive accomplishments of our staff and provide great examples of our engagement with our communities. Are we making a difference? Are our citizens actually getting the message?
It is difficult to measure how effective we are with our messages. In some ways, it is similar to trying to measure the effectiveness of police visibility on reducing crime. We know it makes a difference, but how do you measure it?
Recently, I received a vivid example of how effective the social media program of the Dunwoody Police Department has been.
One of our supervisors received an email from a citizen with the following message:
“I just wanted to send a little note and let you know how much I appreciate you and your team. Brave people don’t come around every day and from what I see on Dunwoody PD Facebook and in the news, you have some brave and wonderful people working at the precinct. I hope you are doing well. Thank you for all you do!!”
Her impression of our department is directly tied to what she has read on Facebook and seen in the news. In our case, many of the news stories are generated from posts we make on social media.
As a law enforcement professional, I encourage you to continue your efforts to get your department’s message out through social media. You may not receive such a direct affirmation of your efforts but I guarantee you ARE making a difference.