Local police in new state-wide trial to connect communities
HOWARD police officers are finding new ways to engage with their community by using the speed and ease of technology.
The Fraser Coast station is one of six rural and regional police stations in Queensland who are taking part of a 12-month trial to distribute local information through Facebook.
Howard Police Officer in Charge Neville Zarkovich said the ultimate goal of the new Facebook page, called 'MyPolice Howard', was to inform the community.
"We used to do monthly newsletters in the Burrum River News and Toogoom Chatter but the problem is it's not timely and by the time they read it they might have forgotten the incident. Therefore the warnings about break-ins etc are not always fresh in people's minds," he said.
"For example, a picture really paints a thousand words and when we posted up the wreckage from a lucky escape from a crash earlier this month it really sent the road safety message home.
"This is something I have wanted for a while, to get the information out while it is fresh and relevant straight away."
The page will cover police operations not only in Howard but also Toogoom, Burrum Heads, Torbanlea and the small communities in between bigger centres.
It will complement the work the five officers who staff the Howard station do in not only keeping the community safe but engaging the public.
Central Region Regional Operations Acting Inspector Ben Wiltshire said the trial hoped to use the expertise and success of Queensland Police's use of social media off the back of the flooding disaster in 2010 to give information quickly to local residents.
Other stations in the social media trial include Moura and Blackwater, Thursday Island, Cloncurry and Hughenden.
"The issues in Howard are different from Thursday Island so it is up to the locations and personalities running the pages to best engage with their community how they see fit, whether that is them posting at different community events or crime reports," Act Insp Wiltshire said.
"At the moment 190 people are following the page and we will expect that to rise slowly as people begin picking up on it.
"There are a lot of fake or illegitimate police pages out there so we are continuing with the MyPolice branding because it is what people know and recognise.
"There will be some information about crime shared that people didn't realise was happening, and we can also quickly put rumours to bed or delay fears with correct information."