Local officers add humanity and humor to their posts
The Paso Robles Police Department started its Facebook page in November of 2018 as a means of communicating with its community quickly and effectively and now two years later have one of the best business pages in San Luis Obispo County.
The local police department’s social media campaign began as nothing more than a means of communication aimed at helping the community through essential reports, missing persons, and finding public enemy number one but have, in turn, helped the city in a different way through humor.
“We like to have a way to reach a large portion of our community if we needed to for major events,” Commander Caleb Davis explained in an interview with the Paso Robles Press. “We have seen all sorts of major events happen across our country for many years now, and a lot of those places that do well handling those sorts of emergencies have a well established social media platform.”
Over the past few years, the PRPD site has built up a following that now boasts over 7,000 likes and 7,400 hundred follows (one of the most massive audiences in the county) and have found that their media presence also helps in another way, humanizing its officers.
“Our Facebook page is a little bit different than some people are probably used to seeing from law enforcement pages, and that is intentional,” Commander Davis said. “In our profession, we are typically more — well police officers in general — have a tendency to keep up their shield of being a police officer at all times and sometimes we are a little reluctant to show our more human side.”
Not only do videos of officers singing in the car or leading fitness classes show the community and help affirm that our officers are everyday people like you. It also helps the officers themselves as a way to step out of their comfort zones and take of their perpetual mask of imperviousness.
“That is kind of entrenched in the way that you are trained so you can handle the high-stress calls, but at the end of the day, we are all just regular people who love our families,” Davis explained. “So we try to develop a social media platform that shows that side of us a bit more than the police side.”
PRPD posts topical memes, videos, photos as well as important police briefings that alert the community to relevant information in a less stressful, humorous way. Just recently, PRPD photoshopped a mask over their logo, like the ones many of us dread wearing to the grocery store, and have posted several social distancing related memes as they continue to inform us and advocate for public health.
However, as for any creative endeavor, there are always mistakes to be made, but just as our officers face criticism in everyday life and continue to do their jobs, their social media platform stands behind their posts, good or bad.
“As you try and forge down the path of developing a good social media platform, you have to be willing and understanding that not every post is going to be perfect,” Commander Davis said. “But in our world, we don’t delete our posts. They stay up there because we always try to stand behind what we do, so we do our best to make our posts special yet personal.”
As many can relate, existing on social media is not a perfect science, and not every post is a home run.
“We are human,” Davis said. “We don’t get this right all the time. At the end of the day we are cops, and we didn’t go to school for this.”
Humanizing the department by engaging in a relatable way on social media comes with its vulnerabilities, but Davis and the PRPD are betting that the risk is worth the reward.
“We have to be willing to miss,” Davis said. “We will fail sometimes. At times we will miss the mark.”
Regardless, whether it is a photo of their newest four-legged, fury recruit Renzo or an update on important information we need to hear, it is great to have a police department that connects with its community.
Judging the effort is easy. Take a look at the work on the PRPD Facebook page at facebook.com/pasoroblespd and check them out for yourself.