REGINA – The Regina police service has re-launched its Facebook page six months after a shooting involving a dog led to an online backlash.
The force says it has made changes to the administrative permissions and adjustments to its social media policy.
“We allow comments of course, but we don’t allow posts by others,” said police spokesperson Elizabeth Popowich of the re-launch.
She says the most important change is a new social media management tool that will help moderate the site without having to maintain constant staffing.
Hundreds of comments were posted on the service’s Facebook page in March after a police officer shot and killed a dog while chasing an assault suspect.
Some of the comments threatened officers.
“What we’re concerned with is comments that say ‘the only good police officer is a dead police officer’,” said Regina Police Association president Evan Bray at the time.
Six months later, he feels optimistic the new monitoring system will work.
“I think other police services across Canada and municipalities are going to be looking to us to see how we handled this issue,” Bray explained.
The system is currently being tested on line to see how well it functions, so police will not go into details of how it works just yet. The goal is to keep the relationship with the public open, but safe.
“We know this is a powerful way of engaging community, but we won’t allow things that could be a criminal offence, something like uttering threats,” explained Popowich.
University of Regina computer science professor David Gerhard said this is a good lesson for anyone running a website or has a page on Facebook. He said some minor tweaks can have a big impact.
“You can say, if a user uses a keyword in this post, then to block the post,” he explained. “You can also search by profanity, so if a user uses profanity you can turn it off.”
With files from The Canadian Press