- Contact Name: Public Information Officer Lucy Caldwell
- Contact Phone: 703.246.3271
- Contact E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
- Date: 9/6/2010
The Fairfax County Police Department (FCPD) is comprised of roughly 1,400 sworn officers and 350 civilians, serving approximately 1.2 million residents in the county located in northern Virginia. With a blend of urban centers, suburban neighborhoods, and large expanses of open land and parks, Fairfax County is home to a diverse community.
The FCPD began their social media presence with YouTube in 2008 and then launched their Facebook page in April 2010. The FCPD has been very pleased with the reception of their Facebook page and hopes to continue to grow the fan base for the site. Public information officer (PIO), Lucy Caldwell, notes the goals of the FCPD social media presence directly align with the strategic objects of the PIO which include enhanced transparency as well as creating a culture of engagement with the public.
Caldwell has several tips for law enforcement agencies across the country who are either hesitant to create a Facebook page or who are just getting started and need a little guidance.
- Get moving. Chances are a large portion of your community is already engaged in social media and they will be pleased to see your agency on Facebook.
- Do not be concerned about a lack of information. You will be surprised how much information you actually have to post.
- Keep your posts short and interesting. This is not a website, but you can use it to link back to your site for the more detailed information.
- Mix it up. Strike a balance between light and community oriented information and the more serious crime-related information. Figure out what is right for you and your agency.
- Establish your personality. Like any publication, consider having a voice or tone that will echo through your entire site.
- Consider a team approach. While Facebook is not labor intensive, it should continuously be monitored for comments that need response as well as continuously updated with fresh information.
While these tips pertain to Facebook, they are relevant to many other social media applications that agencies may choose to utilize.
Social media is here to stay, and Caldwell envisions that FCPD will increase their uses of these tools in the future. As the various platforms evolve, so will the strategies and functions of the PIO. Caldwell says she looks forward to the opportunities that social media will present for their department and their community in the future.