Members of the Toronto Police Service Social Media Team gathered at headquarters recently to brainstorm ways to enhance the Service’s already successful efforts.
Considered the Top 25 Social Media users in the TPS, the group included civilians and uniformed officers, from constable to inspector, and represented more than 20 different units and Divisions.
“The passion and creativity these members bring to their social media is impressive,” said Inspector Shawna Coxon, who is leading a refresh of the social media strategy. “The trust we build with the public and our ability to connect with communities can be directly associated to these members”.
The Service’s formal social media strategy was launched in 2011, after two trailblazing officers saw the value in what-was-then a new way of communicating.
Since then, the Service has trained hundreds of members on how to be a social media ambassador. Some members are recognized around the world as experts in the use of social media as a community-outreach tool.
"I have found social media to be a great tool when it comes to engaging with young people. For some kids who are shy, it's a great way to connect,” said Constable Dale Swift (known as @TPSwiftD, a Neighbourhood Officer from 33 Division who participated in the meeting. “Because of the relationship we're developing, based on trust and consistency, these kids are helping me be a better police officer. Community policing works and social media is such an important piece of that."
Since the launch of the Transformational Task Force Final Report in January 2017, the Service has heard clearly from the community about its need for quality engagements with local police.
“While we continue to evaluate the social cost of how we do policing, we must also consider making a social investment in our relationships with the public,” said Chief Mark Saunders. “Empowering these officers to connect and build trust through social media is exactly the investment we will continue to make.”
To fully reach the potential of this investment, the Chief has tasked Strategy Management and Corporate Communications with considering new and innovative ways the TPS should be using social media.
“The strategy we created in 2011 was needed at the time to get us off the ground,” said Meaghan Gray, a member of Corporate Communications and one of the original project leads. “What we need now is an overall vision for taking the Service’s social media to the next level with sharp content and greater connectivity with the public.”
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