Community policing in the true sense isn’t what it used to be given the state of local-level funding for hiring officers. Although police departments may not have the resources to engage the community face to face as often as they like, they’re bridging the gap with Web 2.0 tools like Facebook and MySpace, as well as specialized law enforcement tools like CrimeDex and CrimeReports.com. Police have landed on Twitter too, where they hope to complement traditional media coverage by blasting out “tweets” to reach a segment of the population that might not read the daily news or watch it regularly on television.
Neighborhood policing traditionally meant developing personal relationships with local residents to build trust and cooperation. In many communities, that face-to-face communication has fallen by the wayside as budgets have contracted. The advent of Web 2.0 tools and social media sites has allowed police to reach hundreds of residents in real time.
“You have a whole social networking community now,” said Robert Schommer, police chief of the Huber Heights, Ohio, Police Department. “One officer can only reach out to so many people. If we can reach out to all those people who want to be reached, wow, what a force multiplier. Instead of the traditional officer walking through a neighborhood knocking on doors, we can outreach to the whole block and then some, and maybe a couple of people passing through the area who don’t even live there.”
For more information go to Government Technology’s article on community policing and Web 2.0.