Black Friday in most communities is a pretty busy day for police agencies. It is especially busy if the community has a lot of retail establishments or a mall. Dunwoody has both. To chronicle this typically busy day, the Dunwoody Police Department
decided to tweet all of their calls starting the morning of Black Friday at 6am for the next 24 hours.
A campaign started on Monday using their social media channels and email lists promoting the upcoming tweetathon. Several local newspapers and a couple of television stations picked up the story as well. The Uniform Patrol Sergeants for each of the two shifts were responsible for tweeting each call, which included dispatched as well as self-initiated calls. The sergeants were also responsible for responding to any questions or comments if needed.
Black Friday ended up being a pretty quiet day, very non-typical for even a regular Friday. A total of 145 calls were posted on Twitter. A lot of these calls included false alarms, residential checks, and business checks. Other calls sprinkled throughout the day included a couple of burglaries, a couple of entering autos, and only two shoplifting calls. Many of the calls generated questions and comments from the community, which created multiple points of community engagement. Ironically, the one call which generated the most comments and retweets on this day was posted prior to 6am. A woman keyed the car of another who took her parking space at the mall and was arrested.
Overall, the event was a huge success. The department added approximately 800 followers for this event and their social media engagement with the community increased. In addition, there were several important lessons learned.
1. A local online newspaper posted a feed of the hastag #dpdcalls and informed the public they could follow the department on their site. More than likely, this limited the number of new followers the department added.
2. After the event was over, about 50 people unfollowed the department.
3. There were several media requests for on camera comments about the keying incident and about the department tweeting all of their calls. However, the department was not able to honor those requests due to staff being off for the holiday.
4. A couple of people said the tweets were boring and wasted their time. The formula followed by the sergeants left little flexibility and creativity in 140 characters.
5. A follower brought a mistake to the department’s attention. The department inadvertently posted the street name where residential checks were occurring. Although it would be difficult for someone to figure out which house it was at, the department quickly stopped providing the name of the street.
The department viewed the tweeting of all of their calls for 24 straight hours a success. They gained valuable insight into the interests of their community, learned some valuable lessons for the future, and added a significant number of new followers for future outreach.