Step Four: Roanoke, Virginia, PD’s Internal and External Strategy to a Successful Social Media Experience

This is a continuation of a previous blog post.

Guest Blogger: Chris Perkins, Chief of Police, Roanoke, Virginia, Police Department

The final step in our social media approach was to give the people what they want. This has always been a difficult approach for law enforcement because of the nature of our work. By conducting research and evaluations of public response to our posting, we have allowed our readers to establish a broader focus on our approach. By providing the posts and data that intrigue our followers, we are able to maintain a high rate of user activity. This also allows us to insert crime prevention information, crime statistics, and internal recognition among the posts that are often in demand.

It has been apparent to our agency that our followers prefer the positive postings and information over the most traditional, rigid law enforcement material. These posts draw the most views, and we now look to find ways to create more positive news. We realized that when people buy newspapers, they will glance at the news and then read the sports section or the comics. It is our strategy to give the public the news, the sports, and the comics–all of which are directly related to our agency.

While we focus on our presence as a professional, dedicated, and highly trained department, we are not afraid to show the lighter side of our jobs. This also gives us the opportunity to acknowledge individual employees, internal events, and department accomplishments. It is not a bold assessment to say that the rules of law enforcement communication are changing. Our goal is to be an active part of that change without waiting for it to change who we are.

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