Mansfield’s police department finally made its social media debut with new a new Facebook page and a Twitter account, both of which will highlight the good, the bad and the scary work that the department does.
Whether it’s alerting the public to a major accident or honoring war heroes on Veterans Day, Police Chief Tracy Aaron wants to make sure residents stay informed about all of it.
“The whole purpose of it is to enhance our communication with the city,” Aaron said. “As we get into the holiday season with shopping and all that, there are all kinds of alerts we’d like to send out.”
The Mansfield Police Department’s Facebook page has become especially active this month with photos of officers in the community.
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They will also be able to warn residents when roads are shut down from an accident.
“There’s nothing more frustrating than a person getting stuck in traffic and if they had known about it they could have avoided it,” he said.
If detectives are looking for a suspect, they’ll blast photos or surveillance videos on social media, too.
The department also gets thank you letters from the community when officers help them.
“Now, this gives us a venue to be able to post that and recognize them for their hard work,” Aaron said.
Aaron just started his Twitter account, @MansfieldChief, last week. He said the department will get its own official Twitter account, too.
Mansfield’s social media will be updated by the community resources department and the department’s public information officers.
The city of Mansfield has used its own Facebook and Twitter accounts for several years.
“It’s been a very effective way to stay connected with our residents because many of them are on social media,” said city spokeswoman Belinda Willis.
The city’s Facebook page debuted in January, 2013, and has 5,900 likes. The Twitter account started in September 2009 and has more than 1,900 followers. The city has a representative from every department who updates the accounts, Willis said.
Police departments in neighboring cities have been using Twitter and Facebook for years.
Cpl. Tracey Knight, the public information officer for the Fort Worth Police Department, said social media is an invaluable tool to get vital information out to the public quickly.
FWPD relies on Twitter to get information out to followers, including the news media. The department’s Facebook page, which reaches 1 million people per week, is used more for community outreach. Both Facebook and Twitter allow the department to reach residents directly, especially for items the television stations may not cover.
“In order to solve a crime and have a safe city, you have to have a great relationship with your community and social media is a way to assist with that,” Knight said. “Times have changed and we
don’t rely on the mainstream media to get our message out.”