This article was originally posted in the Loop Weekly on May 24, 2017
FROM THE CHIEF
In the late 1990s and early 2000s our only social media connection to the community was through our website, Methuenpolice.com, and our blog at Methuen police blotter on Blogspot.com.
In late 2010, as we saw social media explode and residents show us how often they are online, we expanded our online foray into Facebook and Twitter to push for more two-way communication. We saw first-hand how you were using it continually on a daily and often on a minute-to-minute basis.
So we continued our expansion into the digital world with a newly redesigned website, a new blog. We moved onto Instagram and YouTube, the latter a minor down side for me personally as you can now see every new gray hair and pound I’ve gained. We have branded ourselves on all these sites with the username Methuen Police.
Just recently we launched our new app which can be downloaded on your Apple or Android device for free. The app can be found in the iTunes and Google Play App Store. Just search for Methuen PD and give it a test run. We would love to hear what you think.
We received positive feedback from many and skepticism from others when it comes to our social media efforts. The question I hear the most:
Why does Methuen police need to be on social media?
I usually respond with a question of my own. Why wouldn’t you want your department to be engaging with their community on a constant basis? Any public agency that is not out there to be seen by all, sharing the good and sometimes the not so good is doing a disservice to their agency and the public. All our online accounts are filled with positive things we are doing in the community that otherwise our residents would not know about. As much as we value our relationships with traditional media like Loop Weekly, social media allows us to speak directly to you instantly to spread the word on many issues that affect the daily lives of our citizens. That ranges from weather emergencies to road closings to crimes being committed.
Social media is engrained in our daily lives as a city and it has brought transparency, accountability and customer service and community engagement to another level and we love and value the interaction on so many levels. We do not just publish information on our social media sites. We communicate, we ask questions, we answer questions and sometimes we just have fun.
Many of you have told me that our personable communications and one-on-one conversations on social media make us feel more real; that you see us more as humans, friends and neighbors who just happen to protect and serve. You’ve shown us you want that two-way dialogue. We’re proud to have just passed 10,000 followers on Twitter and closing in on 14,000 followers on Facebook. We are not just here to do a job; we are here to be one with our community.
Some of our major success stories on social media have been with the help of the community that acts as our eyes and our ears. Here are just a few examples.
One of our first major crimes solved through social media was that of a man wanted for a home invasion. This man broke into a house and threatened the occupant with a weapon and sexually assaulted her. We obtained security footage of the man approaching the location and immediately posted the video of him and asked for your help identifying him on Facebook, YouTube and Twitter. Within an hour, a member of law enforcement who had seen the posts contacted us with the identity of the man. This was a major break and allowed us to work on a positive identification from the victim. A warrant was obtained and the man was taken into custody. Without this video being posted and a follower sharing it, we may never have positively identified a dangerous individual and taken him off the streets.
We recently identified a bank robber when a photo was posted on our social media sites within minutes of the post going live. This resulted in the bank robber being taken into custody in a matter of hours.
Social media not only helps solve crimes but it helps us find missing children and missing adults. One day we posted a photo of a missing woman who was suffering from Alzheimer’s. She was reported missing to us after the family spent the day searching for her. Shortly after posting, a person in a restaurant observed the woman from our post and called their local police department who in turn called us. She was then reunited with her family.
And just this past weekend, we located a missing 15-year-old thanks to all the retweets and shares of the child’s photo.
These scenarios have played out time and time again, helping us solve serious crimes and locate missing persons in a much faster time frame. This is why we ask our followers to not only like but also to share the posts. Shares multiply among friends. We have seen posts and videos reach tens of thousands of views in just a few hours.
I would like to take a moment to thank our social media team for all their dedication, hard work, and expertise in this area. None of what we do on social media would be possible without our two social media officers who keep us up and running and engaging you on a daily basis. Follow Officer Gina Scanlon (@OffScanlon) and Officer Derek Licata (@OffLicata) on Twitter and say hello.
I’m thrilled to have the chance to speak directly to you, the Methuen citizens, and keep you up to date on the Methuen Police Department, both by telling you about the officers that serve and protect you and to keep you up to date on how we’re trying to both build strong relationships with residents and to always be innovating in how we police the city.
Visit us on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram @Methuen Police to read more about what we do to serve and protect our community.
Editor’s Note: The Chief is far too humble in terms of the department’s efforts on social media. Methuen’s social efforts have been the blueprint for cities across the Commonwealth and nationwide, and Chief Solomon has been asked to speak at law enforcement conferences across the country to share MPD’s successes.
When you can find us online
Our social media address is uniform (pun intended). Just add /methuenpolice to the end of the URL address at twitter.com, facebook.com, Instagram.com and youtube.com.
Please like, share and follow us to receive updates on what is happening in our city. If you have questions, comments or would like to tell us something, please engage us on any one of our social media sites. I look forward to hearing from you.
Check out our newly redesigned blog at mpdnews.com and follow our officers on Twitter:
Officer Scanlon: @OffScanlon
Officer Licata: @OffLicata
Capt Haggar: @CaptHaggar
Sgt Havey: @SgtHavey
Sgt Lever: @SgtLever
Officer O’Connell: @OffDanOConnell
Officer Mueskes: @OffMueskes