Apex police turn to social media

aramos@newsobserver.comAugust 27, 2013 

New stickers on Apex police vehicles show how to connect with the police department through social media.

TOWN OF APEX — TOWN OF APEX

— Local police cars have a new accessory: stickers that tell you how to connect with the Apex Police Department on Facebook and Twitter.

The department’s Facebook address, Twitter tag and a QR code are now listed on the side of patrol cars and on the back of police trucks.

The stickers are a way to boost awareness of the town’s social-media presence and to get the community engaged online, said Capt. Ann Stephens, who is in charge of social media for Apex police.

So far, the department has more than 1,200 “likes” on Facebook and more than 250 followers on Twitter. It also has about a half-dozen subscribers to its YouTube channel.

Stephens has been working on building an online audience for the past year or so.

“We’re trying to get the word out there,” she said. “(Social media) has given us the ability to reach a large amount of people in the quickest amount of time.”

During major power outages, the department gets about 300 to 500 calls, overwhelming the two communications specialists who are usually on duty, Stephens said.

Sites like Facebook and Twitter can help in these cases, she said, because the department can send out updates.

The department has used social media for everything from posting officers’ achievements and photos of lost dogs to using it to solve crimes, she said.

The sites also post information about road closures, accidents, arrests, alerts and photos of events. Stephens said she wants to post more videos about safety tips on YouTube.

“When we have safety classes at the department, no one comes,” she said. “We’re hoping that if we put the PowerPoint presentation or video online that people might take the time to watch it at home.”

Apex isn’t alone in its online efforts. About 92.4 percent of police agencies use social media, according to a 2012 International Association of Chiefs of Police survey of 600 agencies.

About 74 percent of agencies said social media helped them solve crimes, and 64 percent said it improved community relations, according to the survey.

“This is the wave of the future,” Stephens said.

Ramos: 919-460-2609

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