'Police must use social media for community engagement'

In his study for the Bureau of Police Research and Development (BPRD), Additional Director General of Police (Punjab) Rohit Choudhary also warns the forces not to abandon the social media outreach midway as it affects their credibility. (DH File Photo. For representation purpose)

Use social media as a means of community engagement and not just for information collection and dissemination, a study by a senior IPS officer has said.

In his study for the Bureau of Police Research and Development (BPRD), Additional Director General of Police (Punjab) Rohit Choudhary also warns the forces not to abandon the social media outreach midway as it affects their credibility.

The study 'Identification of Specific Measures for Community Participation in Strengthening Internal Security' highlights the need for police using social media.

"By using social media, departments can at least see what people are saying and have the opportunity to rebut criticism and engage with the community. If the department creates a social media presence and then walks away from it, the department loses credibility making future attempts to create such a presence difficult," Choudhary writes.

He wants forces to post an identified officer within the department with profile information, and make the page human. The content shared is only good and the public is engaged when a real person is standing behind it, he adds.

The forces should have a focus on the content and update it regularly. They should also have a strategy to plan, implement, and manage the social media programme besides formulating a departmental social media policy for internal coordination and control.

"Social media can be used for making new beginnings in the field of community policing. It can offer great opportunities to involve the public in policing activities without needing an infrastructural set-up. Seeing around its varied use for maintenance of law and order and for internal security related matters in the world, it has a huge potential to be used for police-community partnership efforts," Choudhary writes.

"The police should engage in social media only when it can regularly provide content. Social media allows for two way communication with the public. Some people will also say negative things about the police department, unsolicited and abusive feedback will occur, however, all that negative activity would happen whether the department is using social media or not," he adds.

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