If you "like" a number of police agencies on Facebook, which I do as the administrator of the Boise Police Facebook page
, almost invariably, every day some agency has updated their "cover photo." If you use Facebook, you know the new layout allows admins to place a nice large cover photo to welcome and introduce folks to our page.
And what do I see most often as cover photos for police agencies?
Cars, trucks and buildings. Sometimes the car is armored. Lots of logos and badges.
All very fine images. But where are our PEOPLE?
The amazingly useful thing about social networks for police agencies is the ability to share the very human stories that come out of our public service. Yes, all those stories our local media will never cover but illustrate the very human interaction our members have numerous times daily with citizens from all walks of life, from emergencies to education, courts to classrooms. How 'bout we use those images to welcome citizens to one of law enforcement's most valuable social media tools – our Facebook page.
You don't have to look farther than the bloggers here on The Social Media Beat for ideas and good examples. Chief Grogan and the Dunwoody Police Facebook
cover photo is an officer reading to a classroom of small children, showing off the department's commitment to community service. The Richmond Police Department
shows close up faces of officers at attention, apparently at a recent memorial, illustrating honor and integrity. And as I write this, the Toronto Police Service
has a unique and creative take on the proud traditions of their service, featuring an entertaining illustrated timeline of department transportation, from the horse and buggy to a modern day patrol car. And you might check out the Boise Police Facebook page
. We created a special image just for the cover photo featuring a smiling officer and words from the heart of our mission statement over a montage of our logo and other officer photos.
Featuring only buildings (even a shiny new HQ) and nifty new vehicles give a first impression of our departments that's rigid and mechanical. In fact, we employ human beings, very talented, dedicated human beings. Let's feature those faces, smiling, serving and proud of the communities they work in. Let's welcome people to our virtual agencies with the very thing that makes our agencies valuable and special – our people.