Top 10 U.S. Municipal Police Departments and Their Social Media Usage

Social media technologies present a new way for government agencies to connect with, and potentially collaborate with, their residents. Police departments (PDs) are a setting ripe for use of social media as an extension of their community policing efforts. In this article, we explore the use of social media by PDs in the top 10 most populous U.S. cities. We analyze police-initiated posts on Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube over a 3-month period to determine what accounts PDs use, if they use social media for information transmission or interaction, and if they use the accounts for dialogue that might make collaboration possible. We find that while PDs have and use social media, and while citizens are responsive, there is much less interaction in part due to non-responsiveness of PDs themselves. We thus conclude that though the existence of some PD-resident dialogue is promising, very little was collaborative.

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Photo credit: Jason A. Howie via Visualhunt / CC BY