Does the public ever get to know about the good things that officers do on a daily basis? With today’s smartphones it can be as simple as taking a picture or creating a short video. That is exactly what an Omaha Police Officer did when he met up with two fellow officers.
Police Officers Barnes and Groth were on duty driving on the interstate on one of the coldest days of the year when they spotted two dogs in traffic. Rather than just driving on down the road, they stopped their cruisers and rescued the dogs. While that is a great story and, one of many that officers perform daily, what makes this moment even better is an officer’s foresight to document it.
When the officers returned with the dogs, a quick thirty second video about the dogs’ rescue and quick picture were taken. Let me just say this again…a thirty second video and a quick snapshot. That’s all the time that it took to make a huge positive impact for our department.
Realizing the value of the picture and video, the officer quickly posted it on the Omaha Police Officers Association Facebook Page under the heading, “ More Evidence… Cops Love Dogs,” and we shared it on the Omaha Police Department’s Facebook Page.
So let’s take a look at the numbers from this one post. At the time of this writing and between the two Facebook pages, the post was shared almost 400 times, had over 250 comments, the majority of which praised officers for saving the dogs, and was seen by over 94,000 people. And believe it or not, it was picked up by one of the four local news stations who ran two great positive new stories.
We all know from firsthand experience that if it were a negative cop/dog story, all the stations would have covered it. However, this is a great example of how to create your own positive press relations in your community. (After the dogs were turned over to the Humane Society, the owner signed papers to have the dogs adopted. Once that went public, he tried to get the dogs back. However he had an active warrant for cruelty to animals and the rest of the dogs were removed from the house.)
So who captures your positive moments for your department? Do your officers understand the value of positive press? Do your command officers understand the value of positive press? These are questions you should consider asking and considering when drafting social media policies. Find officers that are willing to capture and share those good moments. Share positive photos and videos on your department’s Facebook, Twitter and blogs. Utilize the free marketing campaign that is at your fingertips. It’s our favorite price…free.
Waiting in the wings is that next negative situation that will go public and make us all look bad. Why not get ahead of that and start promoting all the good things that your department does. Good stories happen every day. Make sure your department capitalizes on them. Thirty seconds is a very short time to make an impact…good or bad.
Bridget Fitzpatrick is a seventeen year veteran of the Omaha Police Department (OPD). Her work as a Crime Prevention Specialist has given her insight to many of the communities concerns. She has been one of the administrators of the OPD Facebook page for approximately two years. Her involvement as a Facebook administrator has been instrumental in increasing the fan base for the page and helping to control the fallout due to controversial issues.