Oak Bay Police all a-Twitter

Force uses social media tool to connect with community

Sgt. Ian Craib worked the night shift in Oak Bay during the long weekend. Of course, if you follow the Oak Bay Police Twitter account, you already know that.

Since April of this year, Craib and Police Chief Mark Fisher have been tweeting about the work of the Oak Bay Police Department. Most often, the tweets are designed to create awareness of police and community issues.

“It’s a great way to engage individuals within the community that we might never otherwise have contact with,” said Fisher. “We use it for news releases, information regarding current events, and other issues affecting the department. We also use it to open a dialogue with people regarding our work and their concerns in the community.”

Sometimes the tweets are coming from Craib as he’s on the job. “This past weekend, while Sgt. Craib was on duty, he managed to send out a few tweets regarding what was going on and what he was dealing with. It was a great way to let people know the kind of challenges we’re facing out there and how we’re managing them,” said Fisher. “It also gives us the chance to alert the public about things that they should be looking out for.”

“Obviously we’re doing the job first,” he added. “But if we have the chance to send a few tweets, it helps people understand what we’re facing out there.”

Police use of social media isn’t a new concept. Mike Russell, the Media Relations and Social Media Officer for the Victoria Police Department says that his department has been using social media for the past three years. “We have 6,300 followers on Twitter and over 2,000 ‘likes’ on Facebook,” he said.

“We also post videos on YouTube to create awareness of crime prevention issues in the community,” said Russell. “But maybe the best thing about our use of Twitter is that we get to generate conversations with citizens about their thoughts and suggestions. It’s been very positive.”

While the use of social media is relatively new to the Oak Bay Police, the reviews have been overwhelmingly positive. “We’re still getting our heads around all the applications,” said Fisher. “But it’s something we’re very happy to be doing. In fact, in July, we even used Twitter to make people aware of a job opening we had within the department. It was great. I’m sure we’ll be doing a lot more of that sort of thing in the future.”

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