The rise of Social Media has touched every area of society, and law enforcement is no different. As a recent NPR article has noted, studies have shown that as many as 92% of law enforcement use Social Media for a variety of reasons, including solving crimes, tweeting prevention tips and humanizing officers.
Of course, some police departments use Social Media to be funny.
- The person who reported the theft of their heroin.
- The woman who needed help finding a barber for her son.
- The man who reported a woman for drug use; he knew she was using drugs because he collected them for her.
- “Ah, a few beers on a terrace laughing with your girlfriends, watching the hot boys go past 😉 Don’t take your eye off your handbag and your phone.”
- “Turn on the passion … SWITCH OFF the camera. NO TO SEXTING!”
Why this style?
Carlos Fernandez Guerra, a former journalist and the only member of the team who is not a police officer, writes all the account’s tweets, which can be retweeted up to 10,000 times and shrugs off criticism that the tone is too jokey.
“We use language that is attention-grabbing, related to things that are being tweeted at the moment,” Fernandez, 39, explained in his office on the third floor of a police station in central Madrid.
By the way, Policia has the second highest amount of followers of all law enforcement Twitter accounts, behind only the FBI.
Last, there was this hilarity from the Seattle Police Department. The Police department was on hand for the annual Hempfest event in Seattle this year, an event that took on new significance after Washington State passed an ordinance to decriminalize up to one ounce of marijuana possession. The SPD was on-hand at the event, handing out over 1,000 free Doritos packages. On the packages was information about the new law. Among the tweets from SPD:
The Seattle Police Department also launched this hilarious blog post that has FAQs about marijuana in it’s fair city.
Okay. So this entry is meant to highlight the funny uses of Police and Social Media. But there is a greater point here: look at these entries. The tone is so friendly and casual that it makes it seem like one friend talking to another. The SPD, in particular, deserves credit for using pop culture and memes in its communications. But these entries also perfectly crystalize the potential of Social Media to law enforcement. You do not have to sound stiff. You can sound relatable. You can be funny. You can actually sound like a human being. That, in turn, will increase your following for when the important stuff happens (wanted posters, crime information, etc).
I once tweeted that I thought I had found the secret to political success on Twitter: sound like a human, like a person, not a politician. I believe these police departments have learned the same, and I wish more governments did the same.