SP Police Go High Tech to get Social
Everyone wants a quick response from the police in an emergency.
But alongside those 911 decals on patrol cars, the Southern Pines police now offer a quick response - to their Facebook page.
The Southern Pines Police Department has outfitted its patrol vehicles with Quick Response (QR) code decals, which when scanned link smartphones to the department's Facebook page. That page contains updates on crimes and a link to the department's website.
"There's a lot of reasons why we wanted to reach out to the community in this way," Police Chief John Letteney says. "One of the best methods of preventing crime is for citizens to be aware. You can learn what you can do to avoid being a victim yourself."
The QR codes are an extension of the department's NIXLE program, the text- and email-based community notification system. Citizens can sign up on the department website to be notified of local crimes or other situations that may need their attention, like downed power lines or traffic accidents.
"The Facebook posts will connect with NIXLE," says Kelly Stevens, the department's administrative technician. "All of our press releases are there, and we always try to post photos, community events, neighborhood watch meetings, etc. All that information is there."
All of this is part of an attempt to reach out to the younger generation, whom police departments have had difficulty reaching.
"We did a community survey back in 2010," Letteney says, "with questions about police services, relationships, and feelings of public safety, etc. It got very good results. After analyzing the data, we realized that the returns on those surveys in the under-30 age group were very limited. ... We realized that that age group uses different technology. The under-30 age group is much more likely to have a smartphone and know how to use QR codes. This seemed to be a clear step forward."
Letteney believes these measures will increase website traffic and increase awareness of crime prevention measures.
This program is not without its downsides, however. Citizens may scan the codes while driving, making the roads less safe. Letteney hopes that this behavior is the exception.
"We do not want them to scan the QR code when they're driving," Letteney says emphatically. "We want them to scan it when the patrol car is stopped and they're out somewhere. Distracted driving is a significant enough issue, and this is not designed to make that worse.
"Most people's only interaction with the police is to see the patrol car driving down the street," says Letteney. "What we want them to see is what's behind the uniform."
Or, scan a police car.
Contact Andrew Soboeiro at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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