Date: Tuesday, June 10, 2014
According to a 2013 survey
completed by the IACP, 95.9% of police departments use social media. This is an extremely high saturation rate. Of course this number doesn’t necessarily mean each agency is using social media effectively. In most departments, one person has been assigned to manage the department’s social media activity. In some cases this is all that is needed and in other cases this is all the resources the department can afford to assign. Social media duties and activities are usually not a full-time job for this staff member. Instead, the duties are ancillary on top of their already overcrowded plate. Many do an excellent job. However, many also feel overwhelmed by the added burden and suffer from a lack of time and a lack of support. This problem can be addressed by integrating social media throughout the organization and using multiple staff contributors to help carry the workload.
When community policing began, agencies were quick to create “community outreach” units that were the main focus and originator of all community policing ideas. A significant number of departments adopted a community policing philosophy yet few staff members were engaged in the practice. Over time, for most organizations, community policing became integrated into the department’s culture and was part of the entire organization. As a result of this integration, community policing principles and outcomes flourished.
The Toronto Police Service
is a great example of a department that has fully integrated social media into their culture and made it a part of their organization. The Toronto Police Service has over 300 staff members engaged in social media on behalf of the department. Their community engagement, transparency, and outcomes as a result of their use of social media are legendary. Of course most of our organizations are much smaller. Nevertheless, even smaller departments can accelerate their success using social media by integrating its use throughout the organization.
The Dunwoody Police Department
in Georgia is one example of social media integration. Although only a 60 person department, they have 15 members who are part of their social media contributor team. In addition, the department has adopted a social media policy and has provided training, and the use of social media has become part of the culture of the department. The Dunwoody Police Department uses social media as a tool to facilitate their mission and achieve their goals.
Although some organizations may achieve adequate success with the use of one part-time social media contributor operating alone, most successful social media programs are ones that are fully integrated with the department’s culture and use a wide range of staff members to get the job done.