Posting pictures, liking statuses, retweeting funny quotes, and socializing are some of the many things we spend time doing on social media. For the Dover Police Department, the use of technology and social media takes on the same purpose—to connect with people—but for different reasons.
“One of the main reason we’re trying to reach out to the public, as technology evolves, is to keep in touch and keep the public notified,” Dover police officer John Cash said.
The department has a Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, and even a free app for iPhones and Android devices. Their Twitter page has over 1,000 followers.
Cash said using social media allows the department to notify the public about road closures, detours and other possible hazards and safety warnings. For Halloween last year, Cash said, the department used their Facebook and Twitter page to get the message out that there was a tropical storm on the way.
Parents who were connected with the department on social media could see the department’s recommendations for staying safe with their trick-or-treaters.
“We’re hoping to reach more and more people,” Cash said, noting the Facebook and Twitter pages are updated on a weekly basis to keep the content fresh.
For those who would like to use their mobile device to connect with the department, the department offers a free smart phone app called MyPD.
“We pay to maintain it, but it’s a very small cost to the benefit it provides for the public,” Cash said.
He explained that people can submit tips, reach out to the chief, contact animal control, reach out to the detective unit, and see staff photos and names of each officer in the department. Those who use the app can submit tips anonymously if they need to as well.
“We also use MyPD to push out the Twitter feed too,” Cash said. “Most people like it, they appreciate the information we put out there along with the photos we post.”
Cash said the most important part of a police department evolving it’s technology to fit the needs of it’s public is the essential access to information the public didn’t think they could get before.
“We can provide the public with information on how to prepare for a storm and potential damage. We’ve put out alerts about fraudulence before,” Cash said. “We have to verify the information and give the public some caution.”
Cash said the most useful information the public can receive from their social media is information on traffic. “We had some road construction on Centre St. in town. Traffic is congested on a good day, so drivers can anticipate an alternate group,” he said.
Their Facebook and Twitter pages have been up and running for several years, but the MyPD app was put into use last year.
In addition to social media, another technology also helps the department in getting the word out to the public with their reverse 911 system. In case of some sort of emergency or public safety announcement, the department can make phone calls to 3,000 to 5,000 people.
In order to receive reverse 911 calls from Dover police, residents can visit http://www.dovermapd.com/safety/swift.htm to give proper contact information to be added into the directory.
The police’s Facebook page can be visited at https://www.facebook.com/DoverMAPD and to follow the department on Twitter, search for @dovermapd.