Lately I’ve been wondering if police departments – or their governing jurisdictions – should be more like e-marketers in their quest to connect with and solicit feedback from citizens. Think about it – every time you order something online, two things almost invariably happen: 1) you are added to that merchant’s e-mail list, and 2) you are asked to review the product you purchased.
What if police did the same thing? What if every police-citizen contact, from citation to incident report, was added to the department e-newsletter distribution and given the opportunity to comment on and review that encounter with the police?
Maybe, at first blush, we don’t want to open ourselves up to that, but on the other hand … surveying public perceptions of police service is not a new idea. Cities and individual police agencies do citizen surveys all the time, some with more regularity and rigor than others. But it’s often done in isolation. Maybe a link is posted on the Web, or maybe survey calls are made at random, or hard copy surveys are mailed. There must be a better, more 21st century way...
Marketers covet e-mail addresses. Why doesn’t law enforcement, I wonder? We obtain citizen contact information as a course of business – home phone and address, even work phone and employer address – for follow-ups. How many departments collect e-mail addresses as well, even optionally?
What if we did… think of the communicative (and investigative) potential. I bet those e-mails already exist, through online bill payments for municipally run utilities or property taxes.
I’m envisioning an RMS system that acts like Amazon. Contact information gets input to the system just like it always has been except now e-mail is included. And now that contact will be added to the department distribution list and offered a survey, an opportunity to “review” his or her experience.
The social aspect of this would come in sharing the results – perhaps a little icon on the online crime map shows not only basic incident info, but also “customer” review data. Maybe that’s going a little far, but you get the idea.
The notion that police can learn from the private sector isn’t new
, particularly in using data and predictive analytics to fight crime, but what about borrowing private sector marketing and communication tactics? Just a thought.