- Contact Name: Major Tim Presley
- Contact Phone: 662.892.9451
- Contact E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
- Date: 2/1/2011
The Olive Branch, Mississippi, Police Department (OBPD) is located in a suburb of Memphis, Tennessee. With 72 sworn officers and approximately 100 civilian employees, including dispatchers, OBPD serves a population of 33,000 in a primarily residential community.
OBPD began using social media in March 2009. Using pictures taken by the Community Relations Officer, OBPD populated their Facebook page with feel-good stories about their officers and the community. In June 2009, the mayor of Olive Branch received a letter from a concerned community member who was dissatisfied with the information available on the Neighborhood Watch page. OBPD realized that Facebook was a much better platform for this information. They could easily keep citizens updated on what was happening in their area and reach a much larger audience than the current, more static Web page. So, OBPD changed their content strategy to include, not only the community relations information, but also, crime news and crime prevention information. With this change, their fan base increased dramatically.
OBPD has found success in multiple areas of operation that have stemmed from social media use. They were able to apprehend a burglary suspect after his description was posted on Facebook and he was recognized by a clerk of a local business who had been monitoring the OBPD Facebook. She promptly called the police. OBPD has also received numerous accolades from their community after weather emergencies such as tornadoes hit the area. During this time, many people did not have power, however, they could use their mobile phones to access Facebook and receive information from OBPD that helped to keep them safe and to get needed resources.
When asked what has made them so successful in the social media arena, Major Tim Presley had a few ideas. The combination of content types keeps people engaged and gives a little something for everyone. OBPD posts a range of content from the feel good stories about officers in the community to the daily crime reports. Major Presley also noted that the citizens to need to be able to reap some benefit from the information and resources they receive via Facebook. Therefore, OBPD makes sure what they post serves to inform and prepare their community to be safer and more knowledgeable.
Major Presley hopes OBPD can continue to learn about social media and do what they are doing even better. He urges other law enforcement agencies to give social media a try, and to begin by finding someone within the department who is media conscious, interested, and cares about social media and the community. Agencies have to be willing to be transparent when they begin using these tools and when they do, the benefits are immeasurable.