With technology constantly changing, police work has evolved to meet new expectations, whether it’s a citizen filming an interaction or controversy surrounding body cameras. For the Chapel Hill Police Department, however, social media is proving to be a tool to bridge the divide between authorities and Chapel Hill residents.
Ran Northam, community safety communications specialist for the Town of Chapel Hill, said a lot of his job involves social media, and it’s a promising new technique for police work.
“I wouldn't say that social media use is new, but we’ve seen different iterations and different people leading the charge of it,” Northam said. “We’ve definitely tried to have a strong presence on social media to get the word out about different safety measures."
From alcohol enforcement teams to police on MLK watching for speeding cars, CHPD uses Twitter and other social media accounts to announce events, plans or ongoing issues like car accidents.
Chapel Hill Police Chief Chris Blue said there is an increased interest nationwide in how police interact with their communities, and social media is a vital part of that outreach. He sees many possibilities for preventative strategies, especially in announcements of when and where police could be watching for speeding vehicles.