Jan. 29, 2017 – The Oak Park Police Department is expanding its channels for communicating with the public with a new presence on Facebook and Twitter.
Notifying the public of safety concerns in a timely manner is a primary objective of the Police Department’s new social media strategy, officials say. Other objectives include increasing community outreach, sharing information about resources available through the Police Department and educating residents about ways they can help protect themselves and the community.
“We received the message loud and clear that residents were looking for improved communication from the Police Department, particularly through an added presence on social media,” Oak Park Police Chief Anthony Ambrose said. “It is our intention to use these platforms to provide the most updated and accurate information possible directly to the community so residents no longer have to wait to read about police news in the newspaper.”
Followers of the Police Department’s Facebook and Twitter accounts can expect to see police activity reports on a regular basis. The reports include brief summaries of responses to calls about crime and arrests for specific dates. The reports often are the basis for crime news reported by local news organizations.
When significant incidents such as a carjacking occur, the Facebook and Twitter accounts will be used to provide details once verifiable information has been gathered. These details can include descriptions of suspects and any additional updates that develop as investigations continue.
Important safety tips, information about various Police Department programs and behind-the-scenes access to the Department and its personnel will also be a part of the content shared on the Facebook and Twitter accounts.
While officials hope the Police Department’s social media presence helps improve engagement with the community, they stress that the Facebook and Twitter accounts are not the proper channels for reporting crimes or suspicious activity.
In the event of an emergency, residents should always call 911. Officials also encourage residents to call 911 immediately if they see unusual activity or suspicious people or vehicles in their neighborhood.
The Police Department’s non-emergency line is 708.386.3800, and dispatchers are standing by around the clock to offer assistance. Anonymous crime tips can also be made at 708.434.1636 or online at www.oak-park.us/crimetip.
Resources may not allow the Police Department’s Facebook and Twitter accounts to be monitored 24/7, but staff will respond to inquiries as time allows. Officials also stress that the social media platforms will not be used to provide real-time, minute-by-minute details about police activity.
“We ask the community to understand that these social media accounts are not going to function like a police scanner because the information we post will be held to a much higher standard than the unverified information you commonly hear on a scanner,” Ambrose said. “It is our duty to make sure we are thoughtful about putting out accurate information. The information we share on social media becomes part of the public record and could affect investigations and potentially prosecutions.”
In addition to the new presence on social media, the Police Department is also working to make it easier for residents to get updates specific to their neighborhoods from their Resident Beat Officers. Residents are now able to sign up for email alerts from the RBOs at www.oak-park.us/zonenews.
For more information about the Oak Park Police Department and its community based policing philosophy, visit www.oak-park.us/police.