There was a time when only birds tweeted — then smartphone owners joined the chorus. Now, the Andover Police Department is chiming away in 140 characters or less.
With the new year and a new era of leadership, the department is launching an initiative to engage residents through social media.
The fresh approach comes with an in-house rebooting of the department’s once rarely used Facebook profile, at Facebook.com/AndoverMassPD, and the creation of an official Twitter account, found at the Twitter handle @AndoverMassPD.
By and large, the goal of tapping social media as public outreach is to send a message to residents that the Police Department isn’t only about issuing traffic citations, investigating crimes and responding to accidents, according to Lt. Edward Guy.
“The buzz words for this year are ‘customer service,’ and ensuring we establish better customer service going forward,” Guy said. “We’re making sure we’re more open, more receptive to the community, their needs, their wants, and being able to better communicate with them.”
The department’s Facebook account was already in existence, but used infrequently until dusted off in recent months by Sgt. Chad Cooper, according to officer Charles Edgerly.
Since then, local police have seen the power of social media after the department shared a photo of Det. Kevin Aufiero being recognized by the FBI for his police work earlier this year.
The department, which had only a little more than 400 likes on its Facebook page at the time, watched the photo get shared on five times as many news feeds as its profile had subscribers, Edgerly said.
The department expects to use its Facebook and Twitter accounts for such things as sharing news on street closures due to accidents or road work, updating storm conditions and a variety of public safety matters, Edgerly said.