Departments’ use of web, social media beneficial

Local law enforcement today is far more than road patrols, sidearms and handcuffs. Now their tools involve posts and likes and tweets and hashtags.

Police are embracing social media in an effort to connect more directly with the community. In a digital world, that’s a wise decision and an important step to take.

The Columbus Police Department has created a Twitter account and is updating its Facebook page, which it has had for several years. Police Chief Jon Rohde said the initiative is to help officers stay connected with residents and build a higher degree of trust in the community.

Sheriff Matt Myers recently created a Facebook page for his department.

“The public is on social media, so it just makes sense for us to be there as well,” Myers said.

People get so much information online and through social media sites, such as Facebook and Twitter, that it benefits law enforcement, fire and emergency agencies to embrace the technology.

The Bartholomew County Emergency Operations Center has been at the forefront locally, using Twitter to quickly share information about bad weather and road conditions. The Columbus Fire Department recently launched a Facebook page so it can communicate with residents during emergencies but also share news items and tips.

The benefits of using this technology are multiple. Most importantly, police can get real-time public safety information to residents quickly, such as road conditions and crimes. For example, Myers posted Monday about recent mailbox vandalism on County Road 100W, south of County Road 450S. That’s a handy heads-up notice and could help with residents being on the lookout for such activity.

Equally important, police can keep residents informed about community events. For example, the Columbus Police Department tweeted about Public Safety Day at kidscommons on Jan. 18. That’s the kind of event that attracts children and parents and builds relationships between them and police.

By police, fire and emergency departments engaging the community through social media, residents are more likely to feel a close connection and a sense of “we’re in this together.” This builds trust and with it comes a greater likeliness to turn to these agencies for help or share tips about crimes and suspicious activity.

That’s a benefit for the entire community.

Local police, fire on social media

Columbus Police Department

Facebook page: Columbus Police Department (Indiana)

Twitter handle: @Columbus_Police

Bartholomew County Sheriff’s Department

Facebook page: facebook.com/SheriffMattMyers

Columbus Fire Department

Facebook page: facebook.com/pages/Columbus-Fire-Department-Indiana/1558368774405645?ref=hl