I was surprised to read about one of the smaller law enforcement departments in America heralding the fact that they had now created a Facebook page. The Seymour Police Department said they created the page to ‘enhance communication and transparency with the public and the media’. The Deputy Police Chief Paul Satkowsi called on people to follow them ‘to get the latest information on upcoming events, programmes, public service announcements and press releases’. (You can read more here http://www.nhregister.com/general-news/20160912/seymour-police-start-facebook-page-to-enhance-communications-with-public-media)
We often look to what happens in America and see that in the UK we are behind the times. In many respects we are very hard on ourselves that we aren’t as up-to-date, innovative and pioneering as they are across the pond. In the world of social media and its use to develop conversations with the public UK policing has been at the forefront.
I find it surprising that a police department, even though it may be small, hasn’t already established a social media presence. After all it costs nothing to create a site and it is an easy way of sharing information and having conversations. There are also early signs that people may be happy to do some business through social media. If I was surprised that they have only created the site in 2016 I was even more taken aback by the plans to use it.
The Deputy Police Chief has clearly got broadcast in mind as a primary way to use the new social media page. It misses the point of the real benefits of social media and that is to develop conversations and have a healthy flow of information, discussion and chat between the police and the public.
We spend a lot of time looking around to what others are doing in communication and that is quite right. It is essential to learn and develop by networking and sharing information with other professionals. However, sometimes we need to stop and look at how far we have come and for policing in the UK there has been some amazing leaps forward to make full use of social media.