The following is an excerpt from a recent on-line article by Whitney Blair Wyckoff (and some recent police Instagrams) from Iceland. There is an increasing use of social media by police all over the world to soften their image and relate with their communities:
“Building snowmen and cuddling with kittens may not seem like typical police work, but for officers on Iceland’s Reykjavik metropolitan police force, it’s just part of the job.
“At least, so it seems from the force’s Instagram. The police department for Iceland’s blistery capital city uses its social media accounts to engage with the people it serves, and recently its particularly quirky Instagram feed has received international attention. Followers can see pictures of officers doing everything from ordering smoothies to fixing their bicycles and talking to a parrot.
“It’s not exactly the sort of thing you see on Law and Order, but Thorir Ingvarsson, the Reykjavik metropolitan detective inspector who runs the social media program, said Icelanders like having a close relationship with their police. Iceland, by the way, has one of the lowest crime rates in the world.
“’We think that all types of police presence is important,’ Ingvarsson said in an email. ‘This closeness that the police has with their public makes social media the perfect tool for police to strengthen that relationship with the public it serves.’
“A recent poll found that people from eight different countries, including the United States, see the need for more digital interaction with law enforcement. In the survey, 82 percent of Americans said the use of digital tools could help improve police services.
“U.S. police forces also have tried to tap into social media. According to a 2014 survey from the International Association of Chiefs of Police, 95 percent of agencies use social media. The most common use of social media is for criminal investigation, 82 percent reported. At the same time, more than two-thirds said social media has improved community relations with police…”
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