For Wichita police, social media builds community, fights crime

WICHITA, Kan. (KSNW) – These days, social media is used for everything from keeping in touch with people, to education.

KSN spoke with the Wichita Police Department about how they use social media in their every day jobs and how it can even save lives.

For police, social media is all about the community.

“It helps our community stay safer,” said WPD Sgt. Nikki Woodrow.

A few weeks ago a woman suffering from Alzheimer’s went missing.

“We were able to get a picture from her family and post it out on Facebook and within that day, 32,000 people have read that post and hopefully kept an eye out for her. It was shared like 670 some times,” Sgt. Woodrow said.

The woman was found safe.

Sgt. Woodrow says social media can help spread the word.

“It’s a great avenue for us to get information out about suspects plus get information out about our officers and community events and we get pictures sent to use about, ‘hey, this officer stopped by and played basketball with my kids,” she said.

Sgt. Woodrow says when she first joined the department 16 years ago, they barely used cell phones.

Now, they’re on Twitter and there’s a Facebook page for every patrol location, Animal Control, the Mounted Unit, the Chief of Police and Sgt. Woodrow herself.

At last check, their main Facebook page has over 51,000 followers.

She says that online following has helped the department share information about wanted individuals, most recently, a bank robbery suspect.

“If we have a picture or a video of a crime taking place, we put it out on the social media networks and we ask for the public’s help because somebody knows who that person is who committed that crime,” she said.

And she doesn’t see it slowing down for fighting crime or bonding with the community.

“Unfortunately, you know, citizens see police at their bad times when they have to report a crime or when they become a victim of a crime or you know, on a vehicle stop,” Sgt. Woodrow said. “It’s nice to be able to see, ‘okay, these officers do great things.’”

 

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