Police Department Using Social Media to Reach Local Residents

These days, Facebook posts and other social media are a way to connect a community- as long as residents use the internet regularly. For a town that has a population of nearly 3,000 over the age of 65 and is looking to build more senior housing in the future, getting information to the public through social media may not be the most effective.

The Londonderry Police Department has been trying to build its social media presence and has been turning to Facebook to get information out to the public regarding events and things to watch out for. Detective Chris Olson, along with Lieutenant Patrick Cheetham and Sargent Mike McCutheon make up the department’s social media team.

Olson said, “Facebook is a better platform” to get that type of information out to most of the community. It allows the department to use a combination of photos and text to accurately and effectively communicate longer and more complex message to residents.

For example, on Nov. 17, the LPD posted to Facebook about a series of vehicle break-ins that occurred in parking lots along Route 102. Olson clarified that they were on Orchard View Drive in front of the Workout Club & Wellness Center and the Apple Tree Cinema 12. Five reports were called in over two days about car windows being smashed and items being stolen.

Olson reported that this was the work of the “Felony Lane Gang,” a group that works its way up and down the east coast and comes to this area about once a year. He also explained that they are called the “Felony Lane Gang,” because the group steals wallets, purses, bags, phones- anything they can use to get your identity and bank information, and then they try to pass off a member as you by driving through the farthest lane from a bank teller.

“When people want to commit felonies, they drive through that lane so they are not easily identified,” said Olson.

Olson recommended to “take your valuables with you,” make sure nothing of value is in sight and to “always lock your door.” This information is posted on Facebook, along with a phone number to call in case of a break-in. Since the post went up, Olson said there have been no further reports of car breaks in that area.

Although that information was posted on Facebook, it was not posted on the police department’s page on the Londonderry town website. There is an option for residents to sign up for email and text alerts with Nixel through the LPD’s page, but if someone doesn’t use email or have a cell phone, it can be difficult to find out that information.

Senior Affairs Director Catherine Blash said the LPD doesn’t send her any new releases to post at the senior center. She said she believes most of the information being sent out is more for the general public, rather than for elderly citizens who may not use social media.

The Londonderry Times reached out to Olson for comment on this, but did not hear back by the time this article went to print.

Bridging the gap between those who use social media and those who don’t is important in a town where 26% of the population is over the age of 55, according to the New Hampshire Employment Security’s webpage. Fully relying on social media to spread a message is not the most reliable way, just ask the parent of a teenager.

For those who do social media as a main form of communication, Olson said to not use it to contact the police. He recommends an old-fashioned phone call in an emergency.

“Do not report any crimes or any missing persons over social media,” Olson stressed.

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