By Melissa Proulx, Staff Writer
When it comes to connecting with the student community, the UNH Police Department has found some digital success.
The International Association of Police Chiefs featured UNH PD on their website for two weeks, starting on Monday, Sept. 1, for their use of their various social media outlets. The recognition is given to a department who does the best to inform and interact with their community through social media with a new department picked roughly every other week.
For Paul Dean, executive director of public safety and UNH police chief, the recognition is one that he takes pride in his department for.
“We’re very excited,” Dean said. “We’ve worked very hard, and to get recognized by the [IACP], the gold standard for law enforcement in this country, was a great honor for us.”
For the last few years, the department has regularly updated their Twitter, Facebook and Pinterest page, and also has a FourSquare page for students. Dean also reported that they recently started an Instagram as well.
“We might even be doing Vine,” Dean said. “We’re trying to find ways and continue to keep up what our community is using. We want to connect with the students in the way students want to be connected with.”
Each week, the department has many themed posts that they share with their followers in order to keep them engaged. For example, Dean said that the department always posts a “Trivia Tuesday” question and a “Throwback Thursday,” both of which are posted on their Facebook and Twitter pages and are designed to be a fun way to educate their followers.
With Detective Eric Kulberg as the manager of most of the social media, Dean said in total, only four people have access to the accounts, though everyone is allowed to contribute. The reasoning behind this limited access, he said, is “not to control the message,” but to make sure that they aren’t repeating posts.
“We want to make sure we get different things out there at different times,” Dean said. “We’re trying to make sure we keep the message out there and keep people connected with us.”
This digital focus has begun to influence the other services the department provides as well. For example, Dean said the department decided to use the LiveSafe App, which was launched by the department last April, because of how “tech-driven” it is.
The app, which was co-created by UNH Law School Alumnus Eman Pahlavani, is available for free download in the iTunes and Google Plus app stores and allows users to report non-emergency tips to the department through text, audio, video or photos with either their name or anonymously.
Dispatchers are also able to respond to those who send in the tip if more information is needed; a feature that really sets the app apart from the department’s previous Crime Push app, according to LiveSafe’s Chief Evangelist and Co-founder Kristina Anderson in a TNH edition from when the app was launched.
The department also updates the crime map on their website whenever necessary in order to keep students notified of where incidents have occurred on campus or in the surrounding area.
“It’s the way to connect with people. I think people want instant information,” Dean said.
In the future, Dean said that the department will continue to further the success they’ve already had in order to keep the campus safe and connect with the community.
“We’re trying to be as transparent as possible,” Dean said. “As more social media sites come out that seem to be what the campus — the students, faculty and staff— is going to, we’re going to be right there in the forefront with it.”
As of Tuesday, Sept. 16, the current featured department is the Las Cruces Police Department, according to their website. The IACP started to share departments who excelled digitally back in 2010 and have recognized nearly a hundred law enforcement agencies ranging from sheriff departments to the FBI since that time. UNH is one of four university and college police forces to be featured.