Tweeting as an organization can be an interesting exercise, but it doesn’t have to be like cuffing a naked and bloody mental patient (if you’ve ever had the opportunity, you know what I mean). As a Law Enforcement organization, we are not tweeting about the great cheesesteak we had last night, the shellacking the Sixers just put on the Knicks (sorry NYPD), or the smelly person that just sat next to us on the subway.
Content, especially for tweets, is all around us. Tweeting is a great way to let people know what you are doing on other digital media. “VIDEO: Suspect wanted for Robbery in the 3rd District” and a link to the video is all it takes. Traffic updates are another easy thing that people love to see. We are often the ones closing the streets for auto accident, fire scenes, parades, etc. A quick tweet, “TRAFFIC ADVISORY: Today until 9pm, 18th to 20th St from Race to Callowhill including Logan Cir closed for Franklin Science Fair” lets people know they need to plan a different route and that we are looking out for them.
Tweets can also give your citizens a peek “behind the badge.” Is one of your coworkers retiring? Getting an award? Snap a picture with your phone and tweet it. Are your officers doing some high-speed training? While we do not have provocatively dressed crime scene investigators using green lasers to find a single hair in a warehouse to blow the case wide open (if you do, call me when you are hiring!), one of the most popular things we have ever tweeted, was an impromptu picture of officers doing Patrol Bicycle training. Sweaty cops after a bike ride, who knew?
Another important aspect of Twitter is showing off. That’s right, puff out your chest a little, you’re doing a good job! Citizens tweet some nice things at us and we love to retweet them. People enjoy seeing that their police department is paying attention and it lets our citizens know about some of the good things our officers are doing. In that vein, we also try to respond to every question. It is usually just a phone number or a link but people really do appreciate it.
We all have many other duties to perform and tweeting could be a full-time job, but making an effort to reach out to the people that we are paid to serve, even if it is digitally, is a cornerstone of good policing. So get over the fact that is has a silly name, get your department a Twitter handle, and tweet away!
Corporal Frank Domizio has been with the Philadelphia Police Department for 16 years. He is currently assigned to the Department’s Office of Media Relations and Public Affairs where he is the Social Media Community Manager. Frank is also a regular lecturer at Drexel University’s LeBow College of Business on the topics of social media and content strategy.