Area police take advantage of social media’s reach
Serious bulletins and some ‘wacky’ posts, too
Twitter : @PrescottPD
Facebook: Prescott PD
Prescott Valley PD
Nixle: Go to Nixle.com to sign up
Chino Valley PD
Facebook: search Chino Valley Police
Law enforcement has always found ways to reach out to the public for help. From the “Wanted” posters of the wild west, to the Silent Witness TV news segments popularized in the 1980s, the police have spread their message in the most current ways.
In the 21st century, the preferred channel is by social media, consumed by the public on computers and smartphones.
The two big social media sources used by law enforcement agencies around Prescott are Twitter and Facebook.
Twitter is good for disseminating short messages, up to 140 characters, photos and even video. Facebook is better suited to longer messages.
Yavapai County Sheriff’s spokesman Dwight D’Evelyn said he uses Facebook “because we can get information out quickly and unfiltered, and not be tied to the timelines of outside media sources.”
With an audience of 9,000 followers – and potentially thousands more, when users share interesting posts – D’Evelyn said social media has been very effective for the YCSO.
He does most of the posting himself, putting online all the media releases, as well as announcements about awards, events, videos, and safety messages.
“During major emergencies, we use Facebook and Twitter to keep folks updated on issues about the situation at hand,” he said.
Another heavy user of those two services is the Chino Valley Police Department.
Lt. Vince Schaan said the department has had “great success” notifying citizens of traffic crashes, road closures, and other “real-time” events.
But, he said, it’s much more than a way to let people know about areas to avoid.
“We communicate with the public, answer questions. We interact and try to keep it positive, light, funny and even a bit wacky at times. We have great feedback and have reached people not just in our area but across the country,” he said.
One concept CVPD has tried and will do again is a “virtual ride-along,” Schaan said, where “we post about the current and real-time actions of an officer.”
Prescott Valley Police Department uses the two big services, but adds a lesser-known one named Nixle.
Nixle was designed for use by police departments, county emergency management offices, and municipal governments and their agencies. “Not everyone has Nixle, but it’s used (by PVPD) primarily for accident notifications, construction limitations, or traffic issues,” said spokesman Jerry Ferguson.
We asked Facebook users what they thought of the police social media campaign.
“I think the police need every tool possible,” Daniel Moir said. “Citizens use social media as well as people in their field of profession.”
“I like being informed,” said Amy Blocker.
D’Evelyn said it’s “another means to maintain a partnership with those we serve.”