The Role of Social Media in Police-Community Relations




McAninch, Dan

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Law Enforcement Management Institute of Texas (LEMIT)



Social media. These two words evoke different thoughts in everyone; some positive and for others, clearly negative. No matter what the personal feelings are towards social media, the fact remains that it has become an integral part of modern life. From Facebook to Twitter, young to old, male to female, and every demographic across the country, approximately 81% of people utilize social media (“Percentage,” n.d.). Law enforcement can no longer rely on print and local television to disseminate their message. To keep with current social and technological trends, law enforcement agencies should use social media to communicate with the communities they serve. If an agency is active on social media, it has a chance to quickly and accurately provide information and other communications directly to a large percentage of the population. These communications can be simple general information or a plea for help to solve criminal offenses. Agencies can show true transparency to their communities by putting out information about successes and failures via social media. At times, it seems the media attack officers and agencies for mistakes, especially when the agency attempts to keep them quiet. With social media, an agency can get in front of the issues and set the tone of the narrative of the incident before others can be negative and accusatory. By using social media in the previous manner, an agency can build and improve relationships with their communities. Once the public sees a true commitment to open and honest communication, they can truly trust their law enforcement agency. With that trust, every agency can undoubtedly see great success.


Police--Community Relations, Police and Mass Media, Social Media