The Social Media Beat

RPD Loves Animals & Good Police Stories – And So Does the Rest of the World

RPD Loves Animals & Good Police Stories – And So Does the Rest of the World

By: Dionne Waugh
Date: Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Dionne Waugh

Dionne Waugh is the Digital Communications Manager for the Jefferson County Sheriff's Office in Colorado. Follow Dionne on Twitter @JeffCoSheriffCo.

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At this point in the social media game, most people know that photos of animals are pretty popular. From police agencies’ K-9 units to mounted squads to animal rescues, it’s clear that the people love animal postings.

But a recent Facebook project of ours just blew us away by showing us how MUCH the whole world loves both animal postings AND good police stories when it made two of our posts go viral.

That project (and Facebook photo album) was called “RPD Loves Animals.” The main reason we did this project was to showcase how much animals teach us and how those experiences make our officers better people and subsequently better officers.

I think a lot of the times when people hear about police and animals, it involves an officer shooting a dog, but not this time. This time we profiled six officers who have a variety of interesting animals or animal experiences and what it has taught them. Some examples included an officer who takes the time to volunteer at the city animal shelter, an officer who talks about the importance of taking his dog to agility classes as a way to decompress from the challenges of the job, and an officer who rescued two mini donkeys (yes, they are as cute as they sound).

But the one profile that struck a cord and went viral was about Detective Mac Adams. His story about how he and his wonderful wife and kids came to adopt five deaf dogs and his advocacy for deaf dogs and educating the public about pit bulls and the bully breed captured the hearts of nearly two million people around the world!

I know this because the photo of him and his dogs is now our most liked, most commented, most shared, and most viewed post in our five year Facebook history. At last check, the photo had more than 20,000 likes, 22,000 shares, 3,000 comments, and it had been viewed nearly two million times. We had about 9,500 Facebook fans before this post, but gained more than 1,200 new Facebook fans from across the world in less than two weeks! The commenters told us they lived in New Zealand, Germany, Australia, Spain, the Netherlands, the United Kingdom, Canada, and across the United States, and that they were now becoming fans of our page because of the great profiles of our officers and the positive stories we were sharing with them.

We have also received more than 50 private messages commending Detective Adams and his work with deaf dogs, pit bulls and for being a dedicated police officer. The Huffington Post picked up the story and even two weeks after the project was first posted, people are still talking about it! According to our Facebook analytics, even though we have 10,863 fans, more than 100,000 people are “talking” about us. Wow!

The comments were numerous, rained in for nearly two weeks straight and are still coming. They included messages about changing people’s minds overall about police officers, the impression of the Richmond Police Department, and people just being happy to read GOOD news about police for a change. Honestly, it was just a huge overall reminder of the humanity of our officers.

This project was a big success and did exactly what we hoped--it changed the way people think of police officers. One of the best examples of those comments is the one below, and this story that was written about our project.

And on an interesting and related side note, we had a second, unrelated photo go viral as well during this time. This was due in part to our huge and growing new audience, but also because the photo was simply good news. A citizen tweeted us a photo of our one of officers pushing a man in a wheelchair whose battery had died during one cold day last week. His lieutenant sent us some further details, such as the officer pushing the man in his heavy chair for three blocks (no, it would not fit in his cruiser); helping him get on the bus; and then following the bus and pushing the man another two blocks to help get him safely into his home.

We posted this photo and these details to Facebook a few days after the tweet and it blew up with likes, comments, and shares! At last check, it had more than 364,000 views; more than 8,400 likes, more than 500 comments, and 2,100 shares. It also generated positive media stories on all three local TV stations.

I think both of these posts go to show that people are hugely supportive of police officers and they love to hear about all the good things they do. That’s one of the main reasons why police departments need to be on social media – to share all these good deeds and educate the public about what police really do and the great, dedicated public servants that they are.
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    About This Blog

    So you have found, or perhaps stumbled upon, The Social Media Beat, the blog for the IACP Center for Social Media Web site. The Social Media Beat is about three things: social media, law enforcement, and perspective. Here you will find a fresh outlook on the issues that are affecting law enforcement agencies and their personnel when it comes to social media.

    Social media is taking the world by storm. Social networks, blogs, photo and video sharing sites, and virtual communities are changing the way people live, work, and play. These tools present unique opportunities as well as challenges to the law enforcement community.  The Social Media Beat brings together a team of bloggers who will speak directly to you about hot topics and current issues.

    Bloggers include IACP staff and practitioners in the field who can provide a unique front-line perspective. Our team cares about social media and wants to ensure that law enforcement across the country are knowledgeable and well-equipped to incorporate this technology.

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    Dionne Waugh

    Dionne Waugh is the Digital Communications Manager for the Jefferson County Sheriff’s Office, which is the largest, full-service sheriff’s office in the state of Colorado. Prior to that, she spent more than six years creating and leading the Richmond, Virginia, Police Department’s social media efforts, which led to international acclaim and recognition.

    She has spoken about law enforcement and social media at more than a dozen conferences across the country in addition to four IACP annual conferences. Waugh is a former newspaper reporter who wrote about crime, police, and the court system for several years. That experience and an ingrained curiosity for what makes people tick has fueled her desire to improve communication between people. Follow Dionne on Twitter @JeffCoSheriffCo.

    IACP Center for Social Media

    IACP's Center for Social Media serves as a clearinghouse of information and no-cost resources to help law enforcement personnel to develop or enhance their agency's use of social media and integrate Web 2.0 tools into agency operations. The Center is funded by the Bureau of Justice Assistance, Office of Justice Programs, U.S. Department of Justice.

    Leon Robertson

    Officer Leon Robertson is the Social Media Coordinator for the Hampton Police Division. Robertson has developed internationally recognized public safety messages, including the Jingle Bells “Holiday Safety Remix” in December 2013. He has extensive experience in graphic design, video & audio production, and managing various social media platforms. You can follow Officer Robertson’s efforts with the Hampton Police Division on Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube.

    Tracy Phillips

    Tracy is a Senior Project Specialist with the IACP. She is responsible for managing the day-to-day operation of the Web site and coordinating the site's social networking plan. In addition, Ms. Phillips provides writing, editorial, and technical assistance on a variety of association projects and activities, including police management studies, job analyses, executives searches, federal grants, and various research projects and proposals. She has more than 10 years of experience in state and local government, including work as a management analyst, performance auditor, and crime analyst. Ms. Phillips holds a master's degree in public administration from the University of Georgia and a bachelor's from Clemson University.

    Want to hear more from Tracy Phillips? Follow her and the Discover Policing team on TwitterFacebook, and on the Inside Discover Policing blog. You can also network with other police recruitment professionals in the Law Enforcement Recruitment LinkedIn group.

    Zach Perron

    Lieutenant Zach Perron is the public affairs manager for the Palo Alto (CA) Police Department. Zach was a 2014 visiting fellow at the IACP in the Center for Social Media. He serves on the steering committee for the Bay Area Law Enforcement Social Media Group (BALESMG), and is a member of the US. Department of Homeland Security's Virtual Social Media Working Group (VSMWG). He holds a bachelor's degree in American Studies from Stanford University and is now pursuing a graduate education at the Naval Postgraduate School's Center for Homeland Defense and Security in Monterey, California.  You can follow him on Twitter: @zpPAPD.

    Dave Norris

    Sergeant Dave Norris is a 21 year veteran of the City of San Mateo Police Department. He has worked in a number of positions including Juvenile Detective, Field Training Officer, Narcotics Detective, and Patrol Supervisor. Dave is currently assigned to Community and Media Relations and oversees day-to-day functions that involve the relationship between the police, the community, and the media. Dave is dedicated to the increase of community engagement through the use of social media. Under his management, San Mateo PD's direct subscribers to community alerts and public safety messaging has grown from several hundred to over 22,000.

    Chris Hsiung

    Captain Chris Hsiung commands the Field Operations Division at the Mountain View Police Department in California. Through the department Community Action and Information Unit (CAIU), he manages strategy, community engagement, and growth through the police department social media channels. Chris has been serving the Mountain View community for over 19 years and has held a variety of assignments within MVPD. These include detective assignments in Property Crimes, Person Crimes, and High Tech Crimes as well as collateral assignments on SWAT and the Field Evidence Team. He also serves on the planning committee for the Bay Area Law Enforcement Social Media Group (BALESMG). You can follow him on Twitter @chMtnViewPD.

    Lynn Hightower

    Lynn is the Communications Director and Public Information Officer for the Boise Police Department and has served in that role since October, 2003. Lynn also serves at the PIO for the Boise Fire Department. Lynn authors and manages the social media outreach for Boise Police and often acts as media spokesperson. She advises officers from patrol to command staff on media and public communications skills. Lynn joined the Boise Police Department after 17 years as a television reporter, producer, anchor, and news director. Lynn regularly instructs new officers at the Boise Police Academy and has given media and public communications presentations to dozens of federal, state, and local emergency responder agencies. Follow Lynn and Boise Police on Twitter @BoisePD.

    Billy Grogan

    Billy Grogan is the Chief of Police for the Dunwoody Police Department in Georgia. Chief Grogan was hired on December 17, 2008, after serving 28 years with the Marietta, Georgia, Police Department, to start a brand new department. On April 1, 2009, the Dunwoody Police Department began operations with 40 sworn officers and eight civilians providing police services to the 47,000+ residents of the City of Dunwoody. Chief Grogan embraced the use of social media from day one of operations. The Dunwoody Police Department began using Twitter the first day and has added Facebook, YouTube, Pinterest, and Vine to their arsenal since then as effective tools to market their department and engage their community. Chief Grogan has written about the benefits of law enforcements use of social media, participated in several social media focus groups and lectured at the IACP, Georgia Association of Chiefs of Police Conference, COPS Conference, and many other venues. Follow Chief Grogan on Twitter @ChiefGrogan and the Dunwoody Police Department @DunwoodyPolice.

    Mark Economou

    Mark Economou is the Public Information Officer for the Boca Raton Police Department in Boca Raton, Florida. His media and public relations background spans nearly 20 years. Spending nearly 15 years in radio and television news, Economou held many positions from assignment editor, reporter, anchor, and executive editor. After that, he served as the Director of Media Relations for Cote & D'Ambrosio, a Public Relations, Marketing and Advertising firm in Wickford, RI. He then served as head of Media Relations for Citizens Bank of Rhode Island, the 9th largest bank in the United States. Follow Mark on Twitter @BocaPolice.

    Frank Domizio

    Corporal Frank Domizio has been with the Philadelphia Police Department since 1997. He is currently assigned to the FBI’s Regional Computer Forensics Lab as a Forensic Examiner. Previously he was assigned to the Department's Office of Media Relations and Public Affairs where he was the Social and Digital Media Manager. Frank has spoke at several industry conferences and major universities on the topics of social media and content strategy.

    Tim Burrows

    Tim Burrows was a sworn police officer for 25 years with experience in front line operations, primary response, traffic, detective operations, and supervision. He has training in a broad spectrum of policing responsibilities including IMS, Emergency Management, computer assisted technology investigations, leadership, community policing, and crisis communications. Tim left policing but has remained involved through consulting with law enforcement on the advancement of communications and social media. Tim runs #CopChat on Wednesday nights at 9pm ET, to allow police and community members to connect and break down barriers. To learn more about him you can follow him on LinkedIn, Twitter and Facebook or click here to contact him

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    The Social Media Beat periodically features guest bloggers who share their perspective on the topic of social media and law enforcement. These individuals are law enforcement professionals; sworn and civilian personnel from agencies of all types and sizes throughout the world. If you are interested in guest blogging, please send your request to All bloggers must be affiliated with a law enforcement agency or educational institution. We cannot accept blog entries from vendors or others working in a for-profit capacity.

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