I support the Mason Police Department creating and administering their own Facebook page
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On January 16, 2017 the Mason Police Department created their own Facebook page to share information with the citizens of Mason and receive feedback from those they serve. Three days later, on January 19, 2017, Deborah Stuart (the city administrator for the City of Mason) ordered the police department to shut down their Facebook.
Recent events revealed that Deborah Stuart will not allow the Mason Police Department to create and administer their own Facebook page for two reasons: 1) resources and 2) vision. The Mayor of Mason, Russ Whipple, recently stated at a Mason City Council meeting that he believes police officers have "real police work" to do and due to budgeting issues the department simply does not have the time to manage a Facebook page. He also stated he believes there would be no value or benefit to citizens by allowing the police department to have their own page.
However, we the citizens of Mason disagree and believe the police department should be allowed to create and administer their own Facebook page. We believe the police department can use social media to:
1. Develop a trustworthy relationship and have transparent communications with the community. Allowing citizens to see a constant presence of police officers on social media provides a feeling of safety and security in their community, as well as the ability to easily communicate with law enforcement if questions or inquiries arise. In other cities, citizens are encouraged to take photos with police officers and tag them with hash tags (Example: #MPD) to encourage a better relationship between the department and the community.
2. Provide a forum to answer questions and publish tips. Police officers see a lot, especially when it comes to unsafe procedures people may use. Using social media to publish tips about things such as securing a home while on vacation, using a barbecue grill, car seat safety, driving while distracted, speed limit reminder, school bus safety, winter safety, etc. are helpful for individuals in the community.
3. Spread information quickly. Social media is an extremely useful tool to warn residents of safety concerns, catch suspects and find missing individuals. By requiring the police department to use the city of Mason's Facebook and post only through the city administrator impedes the flow of time sensitive information from the department to citizens - especially outside of normal business hours or when the administrator is gone.
4. Gain control over the department's reputation. Social media allows police officers to share information on the good things they do for our city each and every day. They can notify citizens of awards and honors, and it can be a resource to release statements on events and other occurrences.
5. Obtain information on suspects. By allowing the citizens to become apart of the process, the police department would be able to expand their resources and use the community to help obtain information on suspects and crimes.
6. Prevent crime and encourage community policing. Using social media can allow police officers to share important information to help prevent future crimes and alert neighbors of suspicious activities occurring in their neighborhoods. The police department can use tools such as the "digital" wanted poster, anonymous e-tipsters, and social media stakeouts to help prevent future crimes.
7. Increase transparency. Studies have proven that younger citizens no longer read the newspaper or watch the news; however, most follow Facebook.
There are many other communities which are the same size as the City of Mason or smaller where their police department operates their own Facebook page. These communities include Leslie, Stockbridge, Flat Rock, Howell, Alam, Plymouth, Charlotte, Lapeer, Saline, Albion, Menominee, Tecumseh, Pinckney, Hillsdale, Grand Blanc, Ludington, River Rouge, St. Johns, Grand Ledge, Houghton, Iron Mountain, South Lyon, Hastings, Manistee, Milford, Holly, Dowagiac, Milan, Belding, Petoskey, Zeeland, St. Clair, Ironwood, Eaton Rapids, Frankenmuth, Utica, Gilbraltar, DeWitt, and Williamston. (This is not a complete list, there are more!) If dozens of other communities the same size of Mason can operate a Facebook, we believe the City of Mason Police Department can too.
The published mission statement for the City of Mason Police Department is: "We recognize that our primary mission and highest priority is to serve our community in the most professional, courteous, and efficient manner possible. To that end, we will always strive to nurture a partnership amongst the community and its components based on trust and respect and achieved through the philosophy of Community Policing. Knowing that our community is evolving, we will honor and preserve the rights of every citizen and colleague, embracing the principal of respect for differences in race, religion, style, and personal opinion."
We the citizens of Mason believe that allowing the police department to operate a Facebook page would NOT cause financial stress to the city or the department. We also believe that allowing the police department to operate a page would be consistent with the published mission statement of using the philosophy of community policing. Therefore, we the citizens of Mason strongly encourage the Mason City Council and Deborah Stuart, the city administrator, to immediately allow the Mason Police Department to create and administrator their own Facebook page.
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