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Charlotte Amalie
Monday, December 5, 2022
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VIPD Leading the Way with Facebook

The V.I. Police Department has been using the social networking site Facebook to show the territory that the VIPD is involved in far more than stopping criminals. For three years, Facebook has been used by the department to promote the hard work of the department in the community.

In an interview conducted by phone Wednesday, VIPD Spokeswoman Melody Rames explained that she came up with the idea to use Facebook a few years ago to reach out to the community. She said she approached former Police Commissioner Novelle E. Francis, Jr., about it and they implemented its use soon thereafter. It has been popular ever since.

“There are demographics that we simply were not reaching and we wanted to bring in more young people to tell them what’s going on in the community,” Rames said. “Many people like the ease of using their smart phones to get the news, and we are hoping that the VIPD Facebook page becomes another source of news.”

The goal of the Facebook page is to promote the acts of outreach, education, and civic actions displayed by police officers and civilian personnel within the department. They’ve posted information in the past about the VIPD Haiti Relief drive, community blood drives, and hurricane cleanups. Most recently, they posted pictures of the VIPD’s efforts to get students to take the pledge against gun violence.

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Last month, Rames contributed to a VIPD’s newsletter, which explained that social media has been used by police departments to investigate crimes and reach out to the public. The newsletter pointed out that the local newspapers always report crime, and thus occasionally, might make it appear that crime is on the rise, which is not always supported by statistics.

“It’s our hope that people can use Facebook to see another aspect of news that does not involve crime statistics. People can get all of that information on our main webpage,” Rames said. “The ultimate hope is that people will understand what the police department does, and we want to relay that to the community.”

By using Facebook to reach out to the public, Rames hopes that younger people will become more involved. She said that the more informed a community is, the more it is empowered to participate in changing it and making it safer.

“Ultimately, we would like people to participate more, to be an active participant in the safety of their community,” Rames said. “Of course, we also want people to appreciate the work the VIPD is doing, and to be able to be proud of the officers.”

The VIPD’s Facebook site is certainly popular. According to the administrator’s analytics, which counts the number of unique hits to the site on a weekly, monthly, and yearly basis, there are some months that have over 60,000 viewers to the site. Last May, 90,947 people visited the site.

As of Thursday, the site had 4,090 fans, a fact that Rames said the department is proud of, but they are always seeking ways for people to “like” the site. At any time, a user can visit the site to see the positive activities the VIPD has been participating in.

For now, there are no plans to move toward other social media, like Twitter or blogging. Rames said the Facebook page takes a lot of time.

“The page is not static, it doesn’t rejuvenate itself, we have to maintain it, Rames said. “So far, we are achieving what we want with the Facebook page, but if something else were to come along that would help us achieve the same goals, we may consider moving to it.

Rames said ultimately, she hopes that people will interact more on the site, and that people will begin to understand what the police department does besides fight crime.

“We want to be able to show people a concrete way how the VIPD interacts in the community,” Rames said. “If the community and the department can work hand in hand with each other, crime can be reduced.”

To see what the VIPD has been doing in the community, visit www.facebook.com/USVIPD or visit the department’s main page at www.vipd.gov.vi/Home.aspx.

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