Illinois police tweet with humor to build community trust

(KWQC Photo)

DIXON, Ill (KWQC) — We all know the impact of social media — able to reach thousands of people in just minutes. It’s something all kinds of agencies across the QCA have taken advantage of. And now, police in Dixon, IL are taking that to a new level.

So far, there have been more than 3,300 tweets from the Dixon Police Department, reaching 1,600 followers and beyond. Like many other departments, officers use the feed to showcase calls for service, road closures and media releases, but they’re also using humor to connect with the community and build a relationship.

“Really, it’s kind of quick as far as what I’m thinking. It’s more just how to word it,” Officer Lincoln Sharp said.

Sharp is the officer behind most of the Dixon Police Department’s tweets. He details life behind the badge and out in the community in 140 characters or less.

“We want to do something different that shows the behind the scenes, that shows our human side,” Sharp said.

He does that with what he calls a creative twist. A recent tweet, reading, “#DPD just stopped car delivering fresh donuts and we didn’t even impound the vehicle! Such a disciplined and professional agency we are…”

Another reads, “(1/2) Excuse for speeding 50MPH down Galena Ave… ‘But my Driver’s Ed teacher told me you have to speed in order to pass someone.’ (2/2) A. No, B. Who was your Driver’s Ed teacher, Reese Bobby?”

Sharp says none of it is made up.

“It’s all real stuff that we encounter,” he said.

And it’s all about positive interaction.

“Trying to get people that enjoy it and can laugh, and if that’s what it takes to build that positive relationship with issues that would come up with crime or whatever else, if we kind of have that trust built up with laughing at Twitter, then it works for us,” Sharp said.

Residents say it’s working for them.

“The humor,” Shelly Franz says. “He makes it seem like they’re just folks. They’re you and me everyday. This is what we do. This is how it goes. And I really enjoy it.”

That’s why Officer Sharp says he only sees it growing. Along with serious alerts, followers will continue to get some humor.

Sharp says he does most of his tweeting on his own time, and in nearly two years has only had one complaint. In fact, officers from other police departments have reached out, trying to model their Twitter feeds after Dixon’s.

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