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Office of Community Oriented Policing Services
Law Enforcement Spotlight is a monthly column that features innovative and creative law enforcement strategies from law enforcement practitioners around the country. This column aims to share ideas that can be duplicated in most if not all jurisdictions. Interested in contributing to this column? Email the CP Dispatch team at firstname.lastname@example.org.
“Early this morning officers responded to a complaint of 2 suspicious males going door to door trying to sell dairy products. Officers determined that the 2 individuals did not have a solicitors permit and were apprehended after a short foot pursuit. We would like to remind everyone to NEVER open your doors to any unfamiliar cattle.”
This message was posted on the Suffield Police Department’s (SPD) Facebook page on February 19, 2017, and as of March 6, 2017, it has garnered more than 14,000 likes and more than 19,000 shares. The clever message was the brainchild of Sergeant Geoffrey Miner, one of two SPD personnel responsible for managing the department’s social media outreach. When asked what made him think to post this, Miner replied, “We have a pretty close relationship with our community to start with, so we have a read on what the community likes and what they want to see. . . . A lot of the stuff that has a sense of humor comes naturally. We didn’t put the cows there, they just happened to be there.”
The SPD’s Public Information Officer, Captain Chris McKee, shared that the department’s social media outreach is critical to connecting with the community in ways that they had not been able to in the past. “It helps us attract people and bridge the gap and it’s something that people can enjoy. We’re just trying to make folks see that we’re human too.”
Miner and his colleague, Dispatcher Nicholas Fasano, manage the department’s social media. As the youngest members on the team of 15 sworn officers, they have grown up in the era of social media, so using it while balancing their regular duties is not a challenge. They also have the support of other officers, who often send them pictures and video. Both were recognized by the United States Attorney’s Office District of Connecticut during October 2016 for their efforts in community policing.
McKee recommends that other law enforcement agencies that are interested in launching social media—particularly small agencies such as the SPD—make sure to select the right people for the job, train them well, set expectations early, and ensure that leaders maintain oversight of all social media accounts. He also stressed that trust is a major factor in an agency’s outreach success. Finding a level of comfort with your social media manager(s) is important, allowing them to use discretion and best judgement when posting.
Miner’s post was a smart way to alert the community of roaming animals while putting a smile on readers’ faces. This quick and creative thinking cost the department nothing but created a connection with the community that is priceless.
The COPS Office
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