I was hired as the first Chief of Police for the Dunwoody Police Department
on December 17, 2008. This was an exceptional opportunity to build a new department for a new city from the ground floor up. In just over three months, the Dunwoody Police Department began operations with 40 sworn officers and eight civilians.
We had both a unique opportunity and a challenge; the opportunity to make a first impression and to write our own history and the challenge of how to do it effectively with limited staff. The City of Dunwoody is an affluent area with a history of community involvement. There are 40,000+ residents who are highly educated and use the Internet frequently. Our day time population swells to over 100,000 people as workers and shoppers come to Dunwoody.
Accordingly, we sought out and used many of the traditional community policing programs during our first year. We engaged our neighborhood watch, encouraged ride-alongs, started a police explorer post, spoke at neighborhood meetings and had officers patrol the neighborhoods and get out and talk with members of the community. Although these things were good, we wanted to do more and reach more in the community.
For this reason, we began to use various social media platforms. In the beginning, we used Twitter
and shortly thereafter we began using Facebook
, and now have a Chief's Blog
. Our use of social media is an effective way to engage our community, provide important information and market our department. The community was already using all of these social media tools so it was only logical that we use them as well.
Even though the Dunwoody Police Department has been using social media for almost two years, we still have a long way to go and much to learn. In general, law enforcement agencies have only scratched the surface of the power of social media and only touched on the benefits for their agency and their community. Social media is "community policing" for the 21st century.