50 Most Social Media Friendly Police Departments in America’s Largest Cities


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Chances are, back in 2001, you first heard about the attacks on the World Trade Center either from a TV news anchor or from someone else who was watching TV and called you. I was at work, and we all left our desks to gather in the break room and watch the coverage on the news.

Today, things are a little different. Police departments are using social media to keep the public informed. I heard about the Boston Marathon bombing through Facebook. I monitored Facebook more closely than usual that day, anxious to be informed of any updates. It didn’t even occur to me until a few hours later to turn on the television and see what they were saying. I had already watched video footage of the explosions online.

Shortly after the bombing, the Boston Police Department made a long post on their official Facebook account outlining the situation and giving instructions to residents and visitors, including phone numbers to call for assistance or to provide tips. The department has continued to make regular updates on both Facebook and Twitter since, keeping the public informed and asking for information about the suspect’s whereabouts during the manhunt.

The Department was able to act quickly to disseminate details of the crime to the public because using social media in this manner was already second nature. Their Twitter and Facebook accounts were already established and well-used prior to the attack.

Here is a graph showing the number of updates posted on both Facebook and Twitter from April 10th to the 22nd:

The number of updates peaked twice: once on the day of the bombings and once four days later during the manhunt. Since the 15th, the Boston Police Department has gained approximately 70,000 followers on Facebook and 275,000 on Twitter. This would never have happened if they had not already been in the habit of using these platforms to inform the public. If you doubt that, take a look at their YouTube channel. The Department has not posted a new video in two years, and they gained less than 1,000 new subscribers in the aftermath of the attacks. If this channel had been in active use prior to the attacks, it would have been natural to put information out through this channel as well.

It is important that police departments are able to communicate information to the public in a timely manner, not just in case of a terrorist attack, but in any type of public emergency. The police are first responders in all sorts of situations, and are frequently the first to know about hazards that people need to be made aware of. Not only do they deal with criminals and maintain order, but they help protect our public health by keeping people away from dangerous situations such as chemical spills.

To find out which police departments are best prepared to get the word out quickly via social media when the need arises, the staff at MPHProgramsList.com, evaluated the social media presence of all the police departments in the 100 largest cities in the US by population. Here are the top 50, ranked from best to good. There were 100 points possible: 30 for Facebook, 30 for Twitter, 20 for YouTube, and 20 for other. The “other” category consists of special platforms set up for use by police and other public service organizations. The most popular of these platforms is Nixle.com, which is used by 53% of the police departments we considered.

If you are affiliated with one of the police departments on this list, feel free to use the Top 50 Badge on your department’s website or social media accounts.

Here are the top 50 social media friendly police departments in America’s 100 largest cities:

#1) Dallas Police Department – Dallas, Texas

The Dallas Police Department is using its social media accounts to announce road closings in the vicinity of the SMU campus. From April 24-26, roads are being blocked off to accommodate the opening ceremonies for the George W. Bush Library.

#2) Boston Police Department – Boston, Massachusetts

If you left some of your property behind on Boylston Street after the Boston Marathon bombing, the Boston Police Department is encouraging you to call 617-635-4500 or e-mail lostproperty.bpd@cityofboston.gov to claim it.

#3) Portland Police Bureau – Portland, Oregon

Northbound I-5 was closed Tuesday after a truck carrying a huge I-beam toppled over. The beam fell onto a passenger car, but the driver was able to climb out. The Portland Police bureau has posted pictures on both its Facebook and Twitter pages.

#4) Kansas City Police Department – Kansas City, Missouri

The Kansas City Police Department just recognized nine members of the department who had a role in apprehending a band of robbers who targeted late-night convenience stores and fast-food restaurants for a six-month period during 2011.

#5) Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office – Jacksonville, Florida

Saturday, April 27 is National Prescription Drug Take-Back Day. The Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office is encouraging members of the community to bring in their unused prescription drugs so that they can be properly disposed of.

#6) Arlington Police Department – Arlington, Texas

The Arlington Police recently posted their top 10 most wanted list on their Facebook page, complete with pictures of each perpetrator. The crimes committed by these criminals include felony theft, forgery, aggravated assault, and unauthorized use of a motor vehicle.

#7) New York City Police Department – New York, New York

The NYPD has posted pictures of its video surveillance system, which officials say has been used to thwart 16 terrorist plots since September 11. The smart cameras used by the NYPD are able to alert authorities if someone abandons a package or bag.

#8) Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department – Las Vegas, Nevada

The LVMPD will have less money to work with next year thanks to a recent decision by the Fiscal Affairs Committee, which approved a “bare minimum” $489 million budget. The new budget is $26 million less than this year’s budget and will result in fewer officers for the department.

#9) Los Angeles Police Department – Los Angeles, California

The LAPD’s Animal Cruelty Task Force has shut down an illegal cockfighting operation that was operating on Rolle Street. The task force confiscated 36 roosters. One person was charged with violations related to running a cockfighting operation, and 19 more were arrested for being spectators.

#10) Tampa Police Department – Tampa, Florida

A picture on the Tampa Police Department’s Facebook page shows a helicopter engaging in tactical training with a Bambi Bucket. The bucket dangles below the helicopter and can be used to pick up water from lakes, ponds, and other bodies of water for use in fighting brush fires.

#11) Philadelphia Police Department – Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

The Philadelphia Police are looking for suspects in bank robberies committed at PNC Banks on April 19 and April 20. The suspect in the first robbery is a black female around 40 years old, and the suspect in the second robbery is a black male in his late 30′s to around age 40.

#12) San Francisco Police Department – San Francisco, California

In the past, the San Francisco Police Department has used its YouTube account to post videos of suspects in ongoing investigations. Other videos focus on topics such as firework safety, and summer child safety.

#13) Honolulu Police Department – Honolulu, Hawaii

HPD officers helped clean up the beach in Haleiwa on Earth Day, along with 150 students from a local elementary school. In addition to the cleanup, career presentations were given by members of the EMS, Fire Department, and Ocean Safety.

#14) Detroit Police Department – Detroit, Michigan

The Detroit Police routinely post links to their daily crime summary reports on their Facebook and Twitter accounts. Only major crimes are listed. The latest report has three incidences of gunshot wounds (one fatal) and an amber alert for a 5-year-old who was returned unharmed to the police department.

#15) Sacramento Police Department – Sacramento, California

Sarah Kern, a dispatcher for SPD, started the Sacramento Community Care Program to provide assistance to good people who are temporarily down on their luck, such as travelers who have become stranded due to car trouble. The program provides things like gas cards and bus tickets to help them on their way.

#16) Milwaukee Police Department – Milwaukee, Wisconsin

A Forward Looking Infrared (FLIR) camera like the one used in the manhunt for the Boston Marathon bomber is being used by the MPD Harbor Patrol to locate and rescue people from Milwaukee’s harbor and break wall.

#17) Aurora Police Department – Aurora, Colorado

As a result of the November 2012 passage of a law that allows possession and consumption of marijuana by adults 21 or over in Colorado, there are a lot of posts on the Aurora Police Department’s social media accounts about marijuana—what’s still illegal, how to talk to your kids about it, etc.

#18) Omaha Police Department – Omaha, Nebraska

Officer Amber Schlote was recently recognized as the Swanson-Grimm Crime Stoppers Officer of the Year for her work in putting Daniel Mangiameli, a pedophile who preyed on young boys, behind bars.

#19) St. Louis Metropolitan Police Department – St. Louis, Missouri

The St. Louis, MO Police Department has posted a series of child abuse prevention tips on their Twitter feed using the #preventchildabuse hashtag. Two things you can do: Ask your child if there is anything that makes him uncomfortable, and always perform a background check before hiring a caregiver.

#20) San Jose Police Department – San Jose, California

The Southern Division of the SJPD has apprehended an auto burglar who has been linked to at least five auto burglaries. The suspect had other stolen property in his possession as well.

#21) Chicago Police Department – Chicago, Illinois

The Chicago Police Department’s Twitter account links to an interview with Mark Konkol, who discusses “snitching” and the lack of police protection from gangs for people who report crimes in the city.

#22) Riverside Police Department – Riverside, California

The Riverside Police Department posts a lot of traffic updates on its Twitter stream. If you’re commuting in the Riverside area, check for road closures and other traffic-related announcements before you begin your commute.

#23) Albuquerque Police Department – Albuquerque, New Mexico

The Albuquerque Police Department posts a “Repeat Offender of the Day” on its Twitter and Facebook pages. The offender’s picture appears along with a summary of prior and most recent charges.

#24) Colorado Springs Police Department – Colorado Springs, Colorado

A man was arrested for stealing copper pipe, brass water flow regulators, and copper wire from new home construction sites in the Mountain Shadows burn area. The suspect is believed to have stolen more than $200,000 worth of materials from local builders.

#25) Fort Worth Police Department – Fort Worth, Texas

The Fort Worth Police Department is looking for information that could help solve a cold case, the murder of an 8-year-old girl named Edna Rodriguez. She was found strangled in July 1998.

#26) Columbus Ohio Division of Police – Columbus, Ohio

The City of Columbus has a graffiti abatement program for buildings that have been vandalized with graffiti. The city set aside $100,000 to remove graffiti last year, and the amount will be increased to around $400,000 this year.

#27) Tucson Police Department – Tucson, Arizona

Tucson Police are looking for an elderly gentleman with dementia who told his wife he was going to their second house before he left in their car. The couple does not own another home in the area.

#28) Phoenix Police Department – Phoenix, Arizona

A 2-day operation called “Operation High Tide” brought in around 150 arrests for the City of Phoenix Police Department. Officers executed a large number of warrants as part of the operation and got some illegal drugs and guns off the street.

#29) Corpus Christi Police Department – Corpus Christi, Texas

The Corpus Christi Police Department announced a public demonstration of the K9 unit on their Facebook page. Two patrol dogs, Indy and Kimbo, will demonstrate an articles search and perform a chase and hold demonstration with the aid of their handlers.

#30) Fremont Police Department – Fremont, California

Public safety dispatchers are traditionally honored during the second week of April, and this year, Dee Schatzinger has been selected as “Dispatcher of the Year” for the Fremont Police Department. This is the second time she has won this award; the first time was in 2003.

#31) Washington Metropolitan Police Department – Washington, District of Columbia

The Washington Metropolitan Police Department’s Facebook and Twitter streams mirror each other, so you don’t need to subscribe to both. There is a steady stream of crime updates on both platforms.

#32) Stockton Police Department – Stockton, California

A 4-month-long mission called “Gideon IV” is being touted as the reason for a drop in crime Stockton. The operation was a joint effort between Stockton Police and the ATF that resulted in more than 40 arrests.

#33) Houston Police Department – Houston, Texas

The Houston Police Department has an active YouTube account, with new videos being posted roughly once per week. Recent videos include the announcement of the 2013 Great Texas Warrant Roundup, a tour of Buffalo Bayou, and a video demonstrating how quickly someone can break into your vehicle.

#34) Atlanta Police Department – Atlanta, Georgia

A video on the Atlanta Police Department’s YouTube channel explains what a Taser is and why the department recently purchased 400 of them. The use of Tasers has been shown to reduce the risk of injury to both law enforcement officers and suspects.

#35) St. Petersburg Police Department – Saint Petersburg, Florida

Watch one of the St. Petersburg Police Department’s red light camera videos. You’ll be amazed at how many people zoom right through the intersection when the light is red. It’s amazing that there aren’t more accidents.

#36) Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department – Indianapolis, Indiana

IMPD News is the official Facebook page of the Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department Media Relations. Their primary YouTube channel can be seen here.

#37) Norfolk Police Department – Norfolk, Virginia

Seven men have been convicted for supplying cocaine in Norfolk. The men, who range in age from 22 to 33, were sentenced to a combined total of almost 50 years in prison, with individual sentences ranging from three years four months to ten years in prison.

#38) Long Beach Police Department – Long Beach, California

April 24th is National Denim Day. Wear jeans today to raise awareness of harmful attitudes about sexual assault. The event was inspired by an Italian Supreme Court decision in which a rape conviction was overturned because the victim was wearing tight jeans.

#39) Baltimore Police Department – Baltimore, Maryland

Thirteen female corrections officers were among the 25 people indicted by federal authorities on drug and racketeering charges for crimes committed from inside the Baltimore City Detention Center. Twenty of those indicted also face charges for money laundering.

#40) Santa Ana Police Department – Santa Ana, California

During the month of April, Santa Ana police officers are watching out for people who are texting or talking on hand-held cell phones while driving. Tickets for distracted driving carry a minimum fine of $159 for a first offense and $279 for subsequent offenses.

#41) Orlando Police Department – Orlando, Florida

The Orlando Police Department is promoting the Orlando Walk a Mile in Her Shoes event, during which men wear high-heeled red women’s shoes to help stop rape, sexual assault, and gender violence.

#42) El Paso Police Department – El Paso, Texas

The El Paso Police Department posts links to their press release page on their Twitter feed, along with story headlines. Unfortunately, people have to search for the story they are looking for once they get there because the links don’t go to the actual story.

#43) Virginia Beach Police Department – Virginia Beach, Virginia

A gas leak at Town Center resulted in the evacuation of businesses and residents. The leak is believed to have been caused by a construction crew hitting a gas line. Virginia National Gas personnel are working to repair the line and stop the leak.

#44) Tulsa Police Department – Tulsa, Oklahoma

Herman Dwayne Webster was arrested for shooting at his daughter and her two children through a locked bedroom door. The children’s grandmother was also in the room. The four managed to escape through a window, but the grandmother’s foot was broken.

#45) Madison Police Department – Madison, Wisconsin

During Monday’s seatbelt compliance check, 44 motorists were stopped for not wearing their seatbelts and 4 more received citations for illegal window tinting. Tinting is allowed in Wisconsin, but it must allow at least 50% of the light to pass through the front side windows and at least 35% through the rear window and rear side windows.

#46) Chula Vista Police Department – Chula Vista, California

The Chula Vista Police Department will be at the Camp Pendleton and SDSU job fairs this week. The department has federal grant money that can only be used to hire veterans, so if you are a veteran looking for police work, be sure to stop by.

#47) Rochester Police Department – Rochester, New York

The Rochester Police Department’s 32nd Annual Awards Celebration is an opportunity for members of the community and law enforcement to recognize outstanding police employees. The event consists of a social hour followed by dinner and awards. Tickets are $35.

#48) Anaheim Police Department – Anaheim, California

The Anaheim Police Department links to their recent blog posts on their Facebook page. One recent post is “Police to girls: Don’t join gangs.” The article states that more young women and girls are joining gangs and in some case endangering their young children by bringing them along while engaging in gang activities.

#49) Denver Police Department – Denver, Colorado

A video on the Denver PD YouTube account tells the story of Detective Antonio Milo’s showdown with a man who opened fire, first on a Good Samaritan and then on the officer, after crashing his vehicle outside the church Milo was attending.

#50) Cincinnati Police Department – Cincinnati, Ohio

A bus driver in Cincinnati picked up two young children who were standing outside in their diapers and called the police for assistance. The children were taken to safety, and the bus driver has been given an award for exemplary service.

Social media has changed our lives in ways we never would have imagined ten years ago. For many people, it is not just a place to connect with friends, but a place to get news about everything that matters to us, from pressing current events to tantalizing new recipes and helpful gardening tips. If you’re not already following your state, county, and local police departments, take the time to look them up now while you’re still thinking about it.

Note: If you notice an error in the stats we used to compile these rankings, please let us know.