On February 16, 2011 I was given a new assignment in the Dallas police department’s media relations office as the social media officer. Little did I know what was in store for me! The department was joining the 21st century and my job was to help get us there. Our social media sites are now allowing us to reach thousands of Dallas residents and to get information rapidly out to and receive feedback and assistance from our many followers.
The Dallas police department has twelve social media sites that I oversee: three Twitter accounts, eight Facebook accounts, a YouTube account, and a Nixle account. The department has seven patrol substations and because of our size, each substation has its own Facebook account as well. Each station also has an officer who periodically posts to and monitors those accounts. Although those accounts are monitored by another officer, I have the responsibility for conducting on-going checks on them.
Once I got settled into my new office, I immediately went to work on updating these accounts. Our Facebook, Nixle, and one of the Twitters accounts are public sites that are open to the community. I am continuously posting information on our Facebook page which is in turn linked to our public Twitter account. This allows me to get information out on both simultaneously. Some examples of items that get posted on our page include: surveillance videos of cases where our homicide or robbery units are asking for the public’s help, department-sponsored events and fundraisers, award announcements, and press releases. I use our “Notes” page to post answers to questions most commonly asked, from “How to Commend an Officer” to “Obtaining Offense and Accident Reports.” Also I created a takedown policy for inappropriate posts to our Facebook accounts and placed it on our information page. This informs the community about what types of comment and photos will not be permitted on our page. One of our Twitter accounts is for departmental use only. This page was set up so that I could get departmental information out to police personnel rapidly and efficiently. Items usually sent out on this account range from retirement and award announcements, fundraisers, and information regarding sick or injured officers.
As I was getting our social media sites up-to-date, I also had to take on the many responsibilities of our other public information officers. This includes responding to media requests for information, photo assignments, press releases, and media interviews.
This first month has been a whirlwind and I have learned many things. I love challenges and am looking forward to helping the department move forward with our many social media projects.
Interact with Dallas Police:
Senior Corporal Melinda Gutierrez has been with the Dallas Police Department for twelve years. Corporal Gutierrez spent time at the Northeast Patrol Division as a patrol officer and also as a Neighborhood Police Officer from March 1999 to July 2008. After leaving the Northeast Patrol Division, she was transferred to Jack Evans building which is the main headquarters for the Dallas Police Department. Corporal Gutierrez was assigned to the Fleet Unit in August of 2008 in which she along with other another officer oversaw the entire fleet of police vehicles. In February of 2011, Corporal Gutierrez was given the task of becoming the department’s Social Media Officer.