- Contact Name: Public Relations Specialist, Sarah Boyd
- Contact Phone: 816.889.6133
- Contact E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
- Date: 7/15/2011
The Kansas City, Missouri, Police Department (KCPD) sits across the border from Kansas City, Kansas, and serves a large geographic area containing, among other things, three entertainment districts, two stadiums, and a theme park, along with a population of around 480,000 residents. KCPD consists of 1,400 sworn officers and 600 civilian employees.
In early 2009, a local blogger wrote a post about the department that ended up being forwarded to the public affairs staff. KCPD wished they had a way to respond the blogger’s comments in their own way, or had their own platform to speak to the Internet community. They quickly realized they could do just that and began using social media in February 2009 with a chief’s blog. Later that year the department recognized they needed a way to get instant news and alerts out to the community and so, they started using Twitter. KCPD had great success with both their chief’s blog and their Twitter page, and each served its purpose. However, the department wanted a way to connect and engage with their community on a different level. And so, in 2010 they set up a Facebook page and also began more extensive use of their YouTube channel.
There are many different types of social media platforms available and each has a unique user base and functionality. Because each platform is best suited for particular functions, KCPD has tailored their social media strategy to maximize their message. For example, Twitter is known for its short, quick messages, or tweets. Because of this, KCPD uses this platform for alerts such as traffic issues, Amber Alerts, crime information, or other news items. On Facebook, they take a lighter approach, using the platform to post positive stories, pictures, and funny contests to engage the community. YouTube, a video-sharing platform, is used as just that, a place where all of KCPD’s videos are housed, from surveillance footage to dash cam videos to public safety announcements. Even the KCPD Chief’s blog has a specific function. There, the chief is able to voice his position on topics that are affecting the community. This is also a platform where the department is able to tell their side of the story. Extremely important messages are duplicated over multiple social media platforms to maximize exposure.
When asked what social media tips they have for other law enforcement agencies, KCPD encouraged others to use their approach to social media, using each platform for a different and specific function. They also encouraged law enforcement agencies to flatten the chain of command for those with social media responsibility. It is important to have a person that can be trusted to manage these accounts so they are able to get information out quickly when necessary. KCPD has also had great success with their use of humor on social media and encourages other agencies to experiment with this approach as a way to humanize their officers and the department as a whole.
As they move forward KCPD hopes to get even more areas of the department involved in social media content creation. They also want to develop more relationships with the people and organizations in their community who are active on social media in order to build a network that will enhance their outreach and communication efforts.