Police forces have taken to Twitter and Facebook over the last few years, posting memes, burns and crime suspects at a surprising rate.
Many people love the accounts because they humanise real officers and show them working. They help reassure people that police are still relevant and in the community at a time when many see them as absent. It even encourages people to give police tip-offs and helps them solve crimes.
However, they have also been criticised for wasting time and resources that could be spent on crime fighting. It can also border on mob mentality, shaming criminals online rather than building positive community justice.
There is no denying that a lot of police activity on social media has been funny or heartwarming and these are some of the best examples:
1) Police animals
Cute police dogs equals instant retweets. It is no surprise that police snap pictures of their pooches on the beat. They are so cute and well worth following a couple to brighten up your day.
2) Football burn
Topical edgy burns are perfect for companies that want to stand out online and be a bit cheeky, and the police are no different. Thames Valley Police racked up over 20,000 retweets and likes in 2017 when they owned Steven Gerrard on Twitter to warn of the dangers of slippery weather.
It’s easy to slip on a normal day…just ask Steven Gerrard
It’s cold and icy in most areas, please take extra care if you’re out and about.
Please do not travel unless it is absolutely necessary. pic.twitter.com/SZ3osvQ95Y
— Thames Valley Police (@ThamesVP) December 11, 2017
3) Viral videos
The police have been responsible for many of the viral videos you have seen online. Currently, the most popular video on the Metropolitan Police YouTube channel is a 999 call from a smart four year old boy. 1.6 million people listened to the recording of him talking the responder through the symptoms of his unconscious mother and managing to save her life.
4) Lost property
This isn’t as funny as the other examples, but it is pretty clever. Police have realised the power of using social media to actually help do their jobs, from giving people tips to helping solve crimes. Glocester Township Police Department in New Jersey have turned their Pinterest board into a lost and found where they document property they have recovered. It is mainly bikes for some reason but it is a great way to post photos encouraging owners to come forward.
5) Twitter takeover
The police can get quite enthusiastic at times when they have the power to reach thousands of people with fun content. So when Twitter extended the character limit to 280 characters, a lot of different accounts shared their excited reaction, which of course people loved.
— BTP East Anglia (@BTPEAnglia) November 8, 2017
6) At the fair
Humberside police were busy looking after a fairground for eight days and took a few minutes out of their day to share some jokes about their patrols. One posed taking notes of a multi-dodgem pile-up and another looked gleeful at a big bunch of balloons. It was savaged in the press as a waste of resources but others praised them for showing the human side of their tough jobs.
Apparently I look too competitive, but I might as well have put a target on my back. Fantastic afternoon at the fair. @Humberbeat pic.twitter.com/v6H9vcHjjB — Ch Supt Darren Downs (@ChSuptDDowns) October 14, 2017
7) Carpool karaoke
Justin Bieber, Madonna and Michelle Obama are some of the illustrious names that have appeared on the carpool karaoke segment of James Corden’s Late Late Show. The police have followed suit and made plenty of their own versions. It is inevitably quite cheesy and tragic but we’ll allow it.
8) Puns galore
If you look at the millions of tweets shared by police forces and officers, there is a fair few decent puns and jokes to go around. Greater Manchester Police have some of the best examples.
22.50pm – Male riding moped Princess St found to have no insurance and now has noped
— GMP City Centre (@GMPCityCentre) June 18, 2016