They don’t have a fancy name yet —- the Fantastic Four, anyone? — but a newly formed social media team at the Fullerton PD has a noble mission:
Ramp up community engagement with 24/7 postings on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram with information Fullerton residents, business owners and visitors to the city need to know.
Why is that police helicopter circling around?
What’s the deal with all the law enforcement activity on (insert street name here)?
How is the K9 who got injured doing?
Police agencies answering these and other similar questions via social media isn’t new.
But the Fullerton PD has formalized its approach to social media by having four employees — three sworn, and all agency veterans — handle coverage around the clock.
Previously, Sgt. Kathryn Hamel was handling social media postings solo — one of her many tasks since she joined the Community Services Division as public information officer in July 2014.
“One of my directives was to bolster our community engagement, and one of the ways that I thought to do that was by enhancing our social media presence,” Hamel said.
“Now,” she added with a smile, “I have some help from my friends.”
These friends are Sgt. John Ema, Cpl. Ryan O’Neil and Community Service Officer Kristy Wells, who works the front desk at FPD headquarters.
The three were selected not only because of their shift schedules and skills with social media, Hamel said.
“They also were chosen because of the perspectives they bring, and their ability to send out a proper message,” Hamel said.
“One of the things we need to concern ourselves with anytime we send out a message is our agency’s reputation. We’ve worked very hard to brand our agency over the last year and a half, and we want that branding to be consistent.”
The team of four will manage the FPD’s social media messages from a web-based app on agency-issued smart phones.
The team began working together Feb. 1.
“We’re still working out some kinks,” Hamel said.
Over the weekend, the agency went live on Instagram, Hamel said.
“We’re looking to do some creative things on Instagram like ‘Mugshot Mondays,’ ‘Wanted Wednesdays’ and ‘Felon Fridays,’” Hamel said.
Wells, who works a swing shift Thursday through Saturday until 9 p.m., says the FPD ranks around the middle of the pack among O.C. and other law enforcement agencies when it comes to use of social media.
She, Hamel and the two other members of the new social media team aim to become even better.
“With this team,” Wells said, “we’ll be able to do a lot more and put out a lot of more information.”
A few months ago, Wells received a call from a resident asking about a police helicopter.
The helicopter was assisting in a search for burglars.
The caller asked Wells if she needed to stay inside and lock her doors.
Wells explained what was happening and urged the caller to follow the FPD on Facebook and Twitter for real-time info.
“I’ll do that right now,” the caller told Wells.
Two recent incidents in Fullerton — the activities of a serial panty burglar and a SWAT standoff with residential burglars — generated a lot of attention on social media.
“Both of those incidents alone each has 50,000 engagements and were shared hundreds of times,” Hamel said. “That’s a pretty expansive reach. Our followers really appreciated how they were kept in the loop about what was going on.
“And that’s what this new social media team is all about: Moving our agency forward and continuing to engage with the community.”