- Contact Name: Sergeant Steve Hauck
- Contact Phone: 315.735.3301
- Contact E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
- Date: 3/15/2011
The Utica, New York, Police Department (UPD) serves a population of 60,000 with 180 sworn personnel and 16 civilian staff members. The city is located between Syracuse and Albany in central New York.
UPD began using Facebook in November 2010 and followed with Twitter and YouTube in January 2011. Chief Mark Williams had some apprehension about using social media in his department until he attended an IACP focus group in late summer of 2010. There, he talked with other law enforcement executives and heard stories about solving crimes and neutralizing inaccurate or negative information on the Internet, all by using social media.
Sergeant Steve Hauck was tasked with running UPD’s public information initiatives, including getting started with social media. Sergeant Hauck stated that in the beginning, their goals and objectives were short-term and very broad, as they really had no idea what to expect. Now that UPD has settled into a social media style, he and other UPD staff plan to assess the department’s social media strategy each year and adjust accordingly.
In less than four months, UPD has made 11 arrests directly from information posted on the UPD social media sites. The cases included a bank robbery and several grand larcenies. In multiple instances, people turned themselves in, either out of fear that they would be turned in by someone else, or out of embarrassment and wanting their picture or video taken down from the sites. In other instances, people see the pictures and videos and contact the police department with information. Sergeant Hauck says he believes social media empowers the community to get involved in the crime fighting process. Instead the police department putting out sporadic requests for information, there is a sustained level of engagement with social media.
In addition to receiving valuable tips, UPD has received more general feedback from their community. UPD anticipated some negativity when they set up their social media sites and allowed commenting, however, the response has been overwhelmingly positive. UPD is building relationships with their community every day and reaching new segments of their population.
Sergeant Hauck attributes a large amount of UPD’s social media success to their content. UPD’s social media sites are updated frequently with current and informative content. They also post a wide array of stories from big to small and good to bad. Using social media gives UPD a voice to speak about all issues affecting the department whether it is an officer’s accomplishments or something that has been negatively publicized. This level of engagement and transparency has helped to increase UPD’s credibility in their community. It has also created a new relationship between the department and the local media outlets, who now follow UPD’s social media streams and are able to pick and choose stories to run.
Chief Williams is impressed with how social media has enhanced relationships with the community members, stakeholders in the city, and the local media. Social media provides the department with a new platform for UPD to reach the community and inform them as well as a forum for the community to communicate with their police department. UPD has made great strides in their social media involvement and they plan on continuing to move forward as the platforms and functionalities grow and evolve.