The Towson University Police Department will soon post Facebook notifications about reported crimes on its own Facebook page.
Previously, the alerts were published on the university’s official page. University officials determined that the police department is better prepared to handle the posts and answer the questions Facebook followers leave. Additionally, a review of other college and university Facebook pages showed that many institutions are now posting these types of messages on a separate police department Facebook page.
In order to get the TUPD alerts in their Facebook news feed, users must “like” the department’s Facebook page. Alerts sent via E2Campus texts to cell phone and smart phones, e-mail, Twitter, and the red alert box on the university’s web site home page will not change.
Taken together, Chief Bernie Gerst says the range of options means a more informed community.
“We know that people are inundated with messages in their traditional email communications,” says Gerst. “Social media serves as one more avenue of communication to supplement email and text alerts so that if one fails or is missed, the redundancy increases the likelihood of the information being received.”
The alerts cover reports of alleged crimes both on- and off-campus. The off-campus reports are generally investigated by the Baltimore County Police Department, which holds jurisdiction. On-campus reports are investigated by TUPD. The vast majority of reports posted in social media are from off-campus, but TUPD sends notifications because so many students live and travel nearby.
“Crime alerts are issued to inform students, faculty and staff about serious crimes that are in progress or have just occurred, or to notify them of serious crimes that are likely to be repeated,” Gerst explains. “Armed with this information, they can take steps to reduce the likelihood of becoming victims themselves.”
The notifications will stop appearing on the official university page as of March 1, but the TUPD page is already posting them.
“Progressive police departments across the country see the value in using social media to communicate information,” Gerst says. “An informed community is a better prepared community.”