by Lorie Lewis Ham
Just like the rest of the world, police departments have started taking advantage of social networks to communicate with the public. Big cities across the country like Philadelphia, New York and Chicago have been on Facebook for awhile now. Fresno has had a Facebook page since 2009, and now many of our own smaller towns are jumping on board as well, with Reedley being one of the first of the smaller towns in this area.
One of the main goals of Police Departments who become involved in sites such as Facebook is to help them communicate better with their community. “It gives us a good tool for communication,” said Reedley Police Chief Steve Wright. “It’s a bridge between us and the community and is keeping [us] up with the technology of the day.” People often have questions for the P.D. and Wright believes that the Facebook page will be a great source of info and a better and easier way of communicating.
“We decided to start a Facebook page to add another way to connect to the community,” said Lieutenant Dennis Gross, Fresno Police Department Public Information Officer. “We created the page in May of 2009.”
According to Gross, there are now even classes available to help police departments learn how to best use social networks. He stated that they receive emails from various places offering these classes.
The Reedley Police Department’s Facebook page was created in January of 2011 and came about through a program called Citizen’s Observer/Tip 411, stated Cyndee Trimble, Senior Community Service Officer in charge of Community Relations and Crime Prevention. It is part of a package of things that help P.D.’s connect with the community in new ways. Trimble was a part of the team that created the Reedley P.D. Facebook page. “We looked at other police department’s who had Facebook to get ideas.”
Once Citizen’s Observer/Tip 411 is fully implemented they will be able to use the Facebook page and other resources to get anonymous crime tips from citizens, have a link to crime alerts, post crime patterns, stolen vehicle alerts, missing people and much more, said Wright. They are already posting crime prevention tips on the page. There will also be a mapping component where people can pinpoint crime alerts and any kind of activity happening in their own neighborhood. The community will be able to subscribe and have alerts sent to their email, and Neighborhood Watch groups will be able to automatically get alerts as well. The hope is that everything will be up and running by the end of this month and Wright stated their desire is to provide updates every 24 hours.
Trimble went on to state that they want to also use the Facebook page as a way of keeping the community informed about what the Reedley P.D. is doing and events they have coming up—their status updates include info on their involvement in many local events such as Relay For Life. “The community has been wanting and needing a way to be informed and to communicate with us. [Our] future hope is for it to be a friendly, positive side of Reedley P.D.”
Find out if your city has joined the Social Network revolution, and if they haven’t, ask them about it. If you live in Reedley, check out the Reedley PD Facebook page. And if you live in Fresno, check out theirs. You can also learn more about the Citizen’s Observer/Tip 411 program on their website.
Many Police Departments are also joining Twitter, including Reedley soon, so go follow and like your local police department and be informed!