A few social media norms the department should be prepared to address.
The Monday after a very deadly Fourth of July weekend in Chicago, the city's police department announced a few tech additions to their 20-year-old Chicago Alternative Policing Strategy (CAPS). A suite of pilot programs, which start in three districts before expanding citywide, now enables residents to send anonymous tips via text, as well as photos, during a 911 call. Three district-specific Twitter accounts were also launched to share important alerts with the community. It may take weeks to see just how willing Chicagoans are to engage with the police, but is the Chicago Police Department itself prepared to take up these digital efforts? Twitter, the most public of the technologies involved, offers some insight on this question.
If Chicago police are intent on opening themselves up through Twitter, here's a few things they should be prepared to address. The social media experiences of law enforcement in plenty of other cities can serve as helpful lessons.
1. Actual Crime The Chicago Police Department's main Twitter account is a harmless “brand page” that periodically links to event calendars and local news articles, when it could easily offer timely updates on arrests, stabbings, requests for tips, etc., as is done in cities like Boston,DC, or Baltimore. The new neighborhood-focused accounts, @ChicagoCAPS07,@ChicagoCAPS11, and @ChicagoCAPS18, ideally would become the more immediate and transparent channels for crime updates. But so far, they’re still serving up more event calendars and nothing on crime in the districts.
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