Social Media: Bridging the Gap Between Police and Public

The number of police brutality cases seem to be at an all time high. Is it because corruption and abuse of power within the local authorities has gone up in the past two decades, or is it because social media outlets have allowed citizens to to record and report these incidents more easily? Nearly everyone with access to a smartphone and the Internet can record instants of police brutality and broadcast it, so it’s no wonder we’re hearing more and more about it on channels like Youtube and sites like Reddit. Not only does this put power in the hands of civilians, instances like the death of Eric Garner forces institutions like the NYPD to change the way they train their officers. But this begs the question: why weren’t our officers trained properly to begin with? Why does it take a huge blow to the reputation of the NYPD to inspire any change at all? Perhaps there are changes, and we’re just not hearing about them.

Local authorities and other government institutions don’t have a stellar reputation because they don’t have a stellar presence online. The Internet is where most people get their news today. It’s where they find the most interesting stories about heroics, and the problem here is that the police aren’t broadcasting their good deeds well enough. Until recently. Just take a look at his story of an NYPD officer who saved a baby’s life by performing CPR found on Gothamist. Rather than posting the usual dry and detailed press releases that clinically describe what happened on the case, they posted it on their Facebook Page, giving the officer and the department a more human face in a place where humans tend to congregate and socialize: social media sites.

In all honesty, the reports of police department misdeeds are like Yelp reviews: people post negative reviews more often because a complaint is easier to write than a compliment; we don’t see the whole story. It’s up to the police departments to take their reputations into their own hands and really work on showing off their positive deeds where people can see them. The bridge between the public and the police are wide enough. Cops are supposed to be protecting the people. Our tax dollars pay their salaries, and they should live by the mantra they have printed on the sides of their cars: CPR, which stands for Courtesy, Professionalism, and Respect. These are the things civilians should expect and experience from the police, not what the police should expect or demand from the citizens. To every precinct in America: if you want respect to go both ways, show us you are on our side, and we will gladly have you on ours. Speak to us where we can hear you. Like with every institution in the world, you must adapt and adopt new forms of media and communications, or you will be left behind.