THUNDER BAY – Crimebeat – Enlightened Police Services across the globe are boosting their use of social media as a way of crime prevention. One of the paths to a safer community is having less crime. By using Facebook, Youtube, Twitter and other means to prevent crime, growing numbers of people are able to live safer lives. One of the benefits to the police service and the frontline officers, along with taxpayers is that it is cheaper to prevent crime than it is to catch a criminal, process the offender, go through the courts, and pay for probation or jail time.
That is why growing number of police services are putting together programs to reach out and help educate people whom they serve about crime prevention. It is also why growing numbers of Chiefs of Police are taking the initiative into social media. Today, Chief Rick Beaszley of the Strathroy-Carodoc Police joined Twitter.
Leaders in the move to social media in Canada are police services like Toronto, Vancouver, Calgary and Edmonton, and Chatham-Kent. The RCMP and the Ontario Provincial Police are also excellent at offering information online to help people protect their belongings and property too. The Chatham-Kent Police Service appears to be one of Canada’s leaders in the use of social media when it comes to smaller centres. The Chatham-Kent Police service has witnessed a twenty per cent drop in crime over the past five years. It is likely that one of the reasons is that the service has adapted to new ideas, and is using the new mediums to reach an ever growing audience.
Sgt Tim Burrows of Toronto is Canada’s recognised leader in moving to social media.
Burrows states that this new tool is a great way to engage the public.
One of the constants in communities which are successfully preventing crime is a growing social media presence. It is taking a great deal of courage by the Chiefs of Police to move into social media. It would be much easier to sit back and stay to the status quo, and ignore the changes in strategy that is resulting in success. A part of the courage is in realizing that the team of officers serving in the department are solid members of the team whose contribution and dedication are without question.
It is also to realize that by opening up communications that the actions of the department could be questioned online. However the reality is that the people following, re-tweeting and commenting online are likely able to do that with, or without the police service being there.
Some of the leadership is coming from the Ontario Association of Chiefs of Police. Since May 2011, OACP has been on Youtube. That growing presense represents how leaders in the policing community are seeing, in new media the opportunities.