- Contact Name: Public Information Officer Stephanie Slater
- Contact Phone: 561.742.6191
- Contact E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
- Date: 9/14/2010
The Boynton Beach Police Department (BBPD) is located in Palm Beach County, on the southeast coast of Florida. The BBPD, which employs 165 sworn officers and about 70 civilians, serves a population of approximately 75,000.
The BBPD was one of the first police departments to use YouTube, uploading its first video in September 2007. Seizing the opportunity presented when the local journalism industry began reducing staff size, BBPD public information officer Stephanie Slater started using YouTube as the department’s own news station.
“We had surveillance videos we needed to get out to the public and the news agencies were all breaking news online, so I thought, why can’t we?” Slater said.
The department’s YouTube videos broadcast everything from crimes caught on store surveillance cameras to K-9 demonstrations to youth participating in a teen police academy to TV shows featuring the agency and its officers. Slater noted that within 12 minutes of putting one of its videos on YouTube, it was seen by representatives from national news agencies. From YouTube, the BBPD also became an early adopter of both MySpace and Facebook. BBPD also joined Twitter in September 2009.
Using these platforms has helped the department brand itself online and bring it to the national stage in the process. More importantly, social media has given the public a positive experience with law enforcement. BBPD’s use of social media humanizes police officers and gives the community and inside look into law enforcement, Slater said. She uses the social media platforms on a daily basis to post press releases, Officer of the Month announcements, BBPD trivia questions, department photographs and videos. Slater would ultimately like to train select officers to use Twitter and Facebook so that they can tweet or post at the beginning of their shifts, if there is anything eventful that occurs during their shift, and then “sign off” at the end of their shift.
Slater described BBPD Chief Matt Immler as a media-savvy leader who believes in his agency’s transparency. Chief Immler believes that social media allows his agency to reach a broad audience of people who want to know more about the BBPD, its fine officers and its top-notch service.
When asked what tips she had for departments developing their social media presence, Slater suggested giving the responsibility to someone who has an interest in social media. By doing so this person will enjoy doing it every day and will understand that the purpose of social media is to engage the online community. It is also important to find creative ways to keep the public coming back to see what you tweet or post every day.