Albemarle Police Make Effort to Utilize Social Media - NBC29 WVIR Charlottesville, VA News, Sports and Weather

Albemarle Police Make Effort to Utilize Social Media

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When people want real-time information on road closures or approaching winter weather, they want it quickly. Albemarle County police know firsthand the importance of putting out critical information in a timely manner.

Social media, particularly Twitter, is still a fairly new part of their communication outreach. The Police Department didn't start relying on social media platforms until October 2012, when a visit from President Obama proved people wanted information within a point and a click.

"For the presidential visit in 2012, we didn't have our social media websites running at that time so this was the first time we were able to use social media for a presidential visit," said Carter Johnson, spokesperson for the Albemarle County Police Department.

Public information officer Carter Johnson says, as the department was busy tweeting information on road closures during Monday's presidential visit to Monticello, Albemarle police gained 400 new followers on Twitter.

These days, the goal isn't just putting out information, but also tracking how it's used. Within the past month, the department has made a detailed effort to track the type of information that is being retweeted and shared. Johnson says the information helps them get a better handle on how to connect with the community.

"It's pretty neat to see how far-reaching that information can go,” she said. “We posted information on Facebook of a missing child and we can follow the numbers and see that it can reach 80,000 people."

Johnson says she tries to provide monthly updates to the chief and command staff. She says social media has not only been a great tool for interacting with the public, but also for highlighting the work of officers.

As for the new followers, the police department says it is right on time because, with an impending snow storm, it anticipates the Twitter and Facebook pages will also be a much-needed resource for the public.

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