Your Police, Now On Social Media
In a country that is rapidly adapting to the consumption and exchange of information in the digital space, law enforcement bodies are utilising social media platforms to overhaul their image and make meaningful connections with the citizens that they serve and protect.
Facebook is the new public interest circular and the police are using the social network to interact one-on-one with citizens, provide timely updates of important information and make themselves more approachable. Accessing a police officer to bring a serious issue to their attention or even to make a general query has never been easier or less intimidating; all you have to do is log onto Facebook and post on their page’s wall. The fact that citizen complaints and questions are up for the general public to see pushes the authorities and page administrators to respond quickly and efficiently to posts.
The traffic police of the major metros are early adopters of the initiative on Facebook. The Delhi Traffic Police page, with the highest number of 1,42,893 Likes, actively updates their page with lists of registration details of offending vehicles and information on traffic situations and movement across the city. The Bangalore Traffic Police page has a quality mix of informative driving tips, traffic updates and also answers to citizens’ concerns. They have a fan following of 47,931. Though lower ranked on the basis of number of page likes (25,638) the Kokatta Traffic Police page is probably the most interactive and citizen friendly. The page is full of personal responses, from the traffic officials, to concerns posted by citizens. They even take care of complaints against taxi drivers.
Bangalore City Police are the only Indian city police force to have a presence on Facebook. Their page comprises of tips and suggestions for personal safety, guidelines on what to do in a crisis, helpline numbers and interesting facts about the city police force. They also have recognition posts commending those officers who go beyond the call of duty and most importantly, they have Senior Police Officers addressing concerns and grievances that citizens post on their wall.
Aside from Facebook, the Bangalore Police also have a blog on which City Police Commissioner B G Jyothiprakash Mirji personally posts. B Dayananda, Joint Commissioner (Crime-East), who spearheaded the social media initiative, also blogs. He made a statement, in response to some users who suggested that they should be able to register complaints on Facebook, that the platform cannot be an alternative to police stations.
Social media and a digital presence for the police cannot replace the process of physically going to a station to lodge a serious complaint, but it can and is bridging the gap between citizens and their law enforcers.
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