Ottawa police cops are tweeting on the beat, according to the CBC news website.
The goal is to reach people in ‘ new’ ways. The initiative makes sense; social media is great for connecting with people and that’s a big part of a policeman’s job. Other police forces have been using social media successfully for a couple of years now. Since 2009, the UK’s West Midland’s Police have been engaging on Facebook, Twitter and Youtube, to very good effect.
“Police are often criticised for being difficult to get hold of, or not listening to what local people are saying. We try all kinds of ways to communicate with the public, meetings, newsletters, traditional media, talking to people we meet and anything else we can think of. There is clearly a huge amount of conversation taking place online and, where people are talking about policing or crime issues, we want to be part of the conversation,” said West Midland’s Police Chief Inspector Mark Payne, who was responsible for getting his force online. (He has since been promoted to Superintendent.)
In Ottawa, we have Inspector Uday Jaswal now using Twitter. He has a lot of interaction with Ottawa’s student population.
“We deal with students annually when they come back around theft of laptops, break-ins to residences, safety in the community, safety when they’re out enjoying themselves… those are the types of messages we want to get to them more effectively than we’re doing right now,” Jaswal told the CBC.
Of course, it’s not just students using social media; there is a good cross-section of the general public engaged. The 50+ demographic is the fastest growing in social media use. Once the Ottawa police start to realise the benefits of engaging in social media communities, the focus of their programme is sure to grow.