As of Dec. 27, the Lower Providence Police Department’s Facebook page has 390 likes, which is a happy surprise to some members of the department, as the page is just over a month old.
“It’s very impressive and exciting,” Lower Providence Police detective Michael Jackson said. “It’s great because people want to help and it’s interesting content.”
Lower Providence Police Department (LPPD) joined Facebook Nov. 23.
It has since grown its page likes and fan interaction through the posting of hyper-local crime alerts and safety tips straight from the police department to residents’ fingertips.
Updating the Community Policing Philosophy
Jackson, who joined the Lower Providence Police Department in 2001, is credited for bringing up the idea of putting the LPPD on Facebook. In turn, he credits his wife for introducing him to the social media outlet three years ago.
“I’m not computer savvy, but it was very user-friendly,” Jackson said.
Jackson found that he was able to reconnect with family and friends, such as those whom he had served with in the United States Marine Corps. He was able to see photos, videos and, of course, the most up-to-date updates.
The immediacy of personal interaction made an impression on Jackson, who would eventually think of using the social media tool as yet another way for the police department to partner with township residents, otherwise known as “Community Policing.”
“I just wanted to get the community involved and let them know what’s happening in their neighborhoods,” Jackson said.
He explained that the department wanted to come up with different ways in reaching residents, passing on information that would be both useful and important, but most of all, interactive.
“It’s an easy way to put information out and to get feedback from your residents,” Jackson said.
According to Jackson, within days of pitching the idea and going up the chain of command to the chief of police, LPPD had its first Facebook post on Nov. 23, which reads, in part:
“Welcome to our Facebook Page! In the near future we will be posting interesting things on this page, e.g., crime alerts, wanted person information, Law Enforcement tips, lost and found, etc. Please recommend our page to your friends so that we can increase our involvement in the community we serve.”
Prior to Facebook, Jackson said that the police department would rely on its and the township’s press releases, as well as news media reports on department activity to disseminate information.
“You can do so much more with Facebook,” Jackson said.
Among the page’s content are crime alerts, including the recent Dec. 23 post, in which Lower Providence Police relayed information about their response to an attempted burglary on the 100 block of Evansburg Road; followed by a request from the community to contact the LPPD at 610-539-5901 with any related information.
“So, if your neighborhood is getting hit with theft from vehicles or burglaries, we want the residents to know to be on the look out,” Jackson said. “And, if you can help us stop it, we would appreciate it.”
Other crime alerts are posted as linkouts to local news media with crime and police stories.
In addition to crime alerts, other useful posts include safety tips, such as links to news stories or websites warning against online identity theft.
The LPPD will also use its facebook page to promote awards and recognitions of the department (check out the Dec. 12 post), as well as events and activities of the township.
Most of all, the LPPD would like to see posts from township residents.
“We encourage people to post comments,” Jackson said. “We really want that.”
He emphasized that residents can directly interact with the department, as well as their neighbors, such as asking if they’ve seen a lost pet; or give tips to help solve crimes or even provide feedback on police performance.
Skimming through the LPPD facebook page, it’s apparent that much of that feedback has been immediate and consitantly positive.
Jackson said it’s a great feeling to have the opportunity for such immediate interaction that only the way social media could provide.
“It’s nice to see people appreciate what you do,” Jackson said. “And, it’s nice to be a part of a community that respects their community and police department, and has a vested interest in the future of their community."
For more information, visit the Lower Providence Township Police Department Facebook page.