It turns out police departments in Alberta’s two major cities are pretty popular on Twitter.
Twitter Canada released a list of the most-followed local police accounts on Wednesday and Calgary and Edmonton made the top five.
The Calgary Police Service took third spot with 117,000 followers.
“It’s good,” CPS Cst. Mark Smith said. “For our population – I think Calgary is just over 1.4 million people whereas you compare it to Toronto, 2.6 million people – it puts it into perspective what we’re doing online.”
The Edmonton Police Service came in fifth with nearly 73,000 followers.
“I think it’s a fantastic honour for Edmonton police,” EPS’ social media coordinator said. “It’s not the reason that we do it, but to see us getting recognized for all our great efforts, it’s a big honour,” Landis Kine Donahue added.
Toronto Police have 188,000 followers and nabbed top spot.
Twitter Canada spokesperson Cam Gordon said the company is seeing more and more police departments encourage officers to engage with citizens by tweeting from their personal accounts.
That is something both Edmonton and Calgary police do well.
“It’s one thing to hear from a corporate account, but when you get the personality… it makes such a big difference,” Kine Donahue said.
“They show what it’s really like to be an officer.”
The EPS has seen great response with social media initiatives like Traffic Tuesdays (where a traffic officer answers questions on Twitter), High-flyer Fridays (which showcases the week’s worst excessive speeders) and a recent fly-along with the Air 1 helicopter.
CPS says social media has proven a great way to connect with people.
“It’s really, really important. It’s absolutely amazing the type of engagement we get with Calgarians,” Smith said.
But, it’s also helping fight crime.
“A couple of months ago, we were looking for information about an offender. We put their picture on Facebook and within 10 minutes we had somebody send us the name of the person involved.”
Twitter Canada says EPS gained more than 41,500 new followers in the last 12 months, while CPS gained more than 40,300 new followers.
And really, what’s so wrong with a bit of friendly competition?
“We don’t really see ourselves in any competition, except for our police rap battle that we had in November,” Kine Donahue laughed. “We might have taken the cake on that one.”
“Honestly, I think it’s fantastic that we were even in the top five with these major police services in Canada. The fact that Calgary beat us by a couple of spots, that’s just fine. I’m sure we’ll be able to work together and both improve our spots next year.”
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