A South Carolina paper put together an interesting piece on local first responders making use of social media to keep residents abreast of issues and interact with communities. Horry County’s police department has 900 fans on Facebook, and their sergeant spoke to local media about harnessing the innate connectivity of social media to disperse and receive information from residents, with a refreshing lack of apprehension about the medium:
“The entire world is using social media now, so we would be behind if we didn’t decide to jump on board as well,” Horry County police Sgt. Robert Kegler said. “It’s only going to further help our relationship with the people we serve.”
Kegler spoke to the potential of social media to expedite service for residents as well as the power the medium has to facilitate police operations:
“Just because they are not on scene when the police get there, doesn’t mean they weren’t a witness or a potential witness so putting those photos out there it gets to the people quicker,” Kegler said.
Georgetown police Capt. Nelson Brown talked about reciprocity- residents receiving information, but also using the service to help cops:
“It allows us to get our message out quickly,” Brown said. “It allows us to get information to the public so they have the updated information. The more informed the public is the better… It allows the public to put a name with a face. We use it for a variety of things like crime watch tips,” Brown said. “Everybody has a cellphone and everybody has Facebook and Twitter on their phones. I was really surprised by the number of the general public that is on it. It’s a great way to get information out.”
Right now, the Horry County Police official Facebook page has 1,066 Facebook fans. Does your local fire or police department use Facebook or Twitter to interface with residents? Do you think more first responders and law enforcement agencies should be “friending” locals?