Police reform could start on Twitter

Deputy commissioner for strategic initiatives Zach Tumin called Bratton’s response to failure a “common force for the department”. “In one of those [press] gaggles [afterwards], Bratton took out his own smartphone and turned it on to reporters’ curiosity with the camera towards them and said, ‘Laugh!’ And he took pictures. We posted it, ”Tumin recalled. Bratton also remarked – in public but with an indifferent tone – that the NYPD is on a steep learning path. The news cycle continued. No one was fired or reprimanded.

When a senior officer explained to me, they quickly learned to adjust: “You jump into the pool… cold water. After a few seconds, there was also a stream of cold water, but now you are warm. “

The move to Twitter comes with a rethinking of community engagement. Under previous administrations, NYPD’s “community relations” function focused on going to locations in chronically problem areas and listening to feedback from community meetings. However, these community meetings have a small group of participants.

In 2015, the zones were re-divided: three to five zones were drawn along the neighborhood boundary. In each of these new neighborhoods, Captain Timothy Malin explained to me, the two Neighborhood Coordinators were assigned to “explore that area and own it.” This includes spending 20 percent of their time “off the radio.” Instead of answering the 911 call, the officers cling to an assigned area and speak informally with the citizens. The program first created a real “geographic responsibility” for the officers. (The Neighborhood Coordinator program is currently expanding to more areas.)

Of course, in an emergency, social media can provide a tool for rapidly and widely sharing information. As Sergeant Grattan explained, “if something serious happens [affecting the transit system], everyone will track the lead shipping lead’s account ”and will immediately be notified of how to respond. In many cases, the public can become an eye-opening for the NYPD in its criminal arrest efforts. The NYPD has long used Crime Stoppers, some of which call to report information about a crime or suspect. Today, the NYPD uses Twitter to inform the public about recent criminal activity and to disseminate images or details that could help the public identify the target audience.

If the NYPD wants to connect more deeply with citizens, they need a platform to facilitate participation – giving them a voice on community affairs while maintaining citizens anonymity. . Deputy Commissioner Tumin decided to use a platform called IdeaScale, in which residents could talk to regional commanders about problems police needed to solve – persistent parking problems, safety issues. noise complaints – and other community members can decide whether problems are prioritized by voting for them. A designated sergeant is responsible for resolving those problems and reporting back to the community.

NYPD has learned a lot from its pilot. But despite direct marketing, the platform never attracts enough community members to make it truly useful. Now, the department is evaluating Facebook for many of these functions. As Malin said, “You have to go where people are.”

In a city of eight million residents, NYPD’s online presence appears to be less than 800,000 – about 10 percent. As one official explained, “We are still struggling with the general public’s perception of the fact that they are accessible online.” Until now, the department used limited two-way communication. As a senior official explained, “we have done a great job communicating with the public, but in my opinion we’ve never done an effective job of communicating with the public. “.

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