I recently wrote a pretty negative post about the police entitled ‘Safer Communities Together: A Story of Christchurch Police Failure‘. A month or two after that post was written, the New Zealand Police fell under the media spotlight for the poor record they have for responding to crimes such as burglaries.
Like I said in my post, I’m a supporter of the police overall – the individual police officers have a tough job – but this doesn’t hide the fact that there are gaping holes in the way that they operate.
Whether this is due to the failings of particular police officers or of police procedures overall, something really does need to be done to restore New Zealander’s faith in the law.
It looks like the NZ Police have taken big steps towards boosting the quality of their recruits and improving their connection with the community overall by stepping into Social Media in a big way.
They’ve had a Facebook Page for a while now, and this seems to be a ‘given’ for any organisation these days. However, the police have taken it a few steps further by setting up a number of Twitter accounts and a couple of blogs.
New Zealand Police Blogs
At present there seem to be two blogs – one based on the police recruitment process and one based on overall fitness (also with an emphasis on the police recruitment process). You can read more about them on our sister website under the title ‘NZ Police Blog‘.
It’s clear that these two blogs are targeted at an audience of potential new police officers and attempts to introduce them to the recruitment process and share the experiences of those that have already gone through the process.
New Zealand Police on Twitter
For me, this is where it gets a bit more interesting. The New Zealand Police appear to have given a few select police officers the tools and authority to post brief Twitter updates based on their everyday experiences.
As an owner of an unruly German Shepherd myself, it’s quite cool to keep up with an actual NZ Police dog officer and see snapshots of the dog training in progress.
You can see the latest tweets from the dog unit officer here:
As well as a dog unit officer, there’s also a Twitter account for New Zealand Police Search and Rescue (@nzpsar), New Zealand Police general duties (@NZPGenDuties), New Zealand Police Community (@NZPCommunity) and even a current recruit going through the recruitment process at New Zealand Police College (@NZPoliceCollege).
It’s great to see the police connecting with the online community however, at present, the bio for each profile states “@ mentions & DMs will not be answered.”. For those not on Twitter, they’re basically saying if you try and speak to these users through Twitter, you’ll be ignored.
Should they actually give these police users the authority to reply to people? Personally, I’d say not in this current format. I’m sure the police officers have more important things to do than talk to random users on Twitter.
… but it would be interesting to see the users given an extra 15 minutes at the end of each day which they dedicate to responding to questions and messages.