DOVER — With the police department's launch of a Facebook page and a Twitter feed Tuesday, area residents now have more ways to connect with officers and keep track of events.
The department has received about 100 "likes" from residents, organizations and news outlets since the Facebook page — www.facebook.com/dovernhpolice — and the Twitter account — @DoverNHPolice — were activated, police Capt. David Terlemezian said, adding that some also have begun to follow the police on Twitter.
"I suspect that as the word travels, we will get more followers," Terlemezian said in an email.
While many departments have websites and links from a community site or use Facebook pages, police in Middleton and Lee launched a new application for Android phones and iPhones last March. Both programs, which were designed by Middleton police Sgt. Tim Brown, allow users to take pictures, contact police, access police websites, receive announcements and keep track of events.
Brown said the main catalyst for creating the app was when the police dispatch was flooded with calls asking information during a standoff in town in January 2013.
"We wanted a mechanism to get good information out to the public," Brown said, adding the program allows police "to reach a good portion of the community in a relatively short period of time."
He said the program helps police "integrate all social media" — including Facebook, Twitter, blogging and YouTube — "so we don't have to duplicate efforts on multiple platforms at the push of one button."
Unlike other systems, Brown said, the program allows for two-way communications and also offers an anonymous crime line and the ability for users to submit pictures of incidents.
"The app is huge — it's very popular among the community," Brown said. While 298 people are now using the program, he said, it distributes information to a wider population because many media outlets subscribe to the system.
As many people get news from a variety of sources, Terlemezian said Facebook and Twitter will help Dover police "connect with the public at large and not necessarily those that are younger or more technologically savvy."
"It is important to keep in mind that we are adding a communication method but not abandoning others. We will continue to use our existing methods of communicating with the public, while also adding these two social media platforms," Terlemezian said.
He said both platforms will be "routinely monitored by some key personnel," some of whom will receive alerts when something is posted.
Both the social media outlets will augment the department's efforts to keep residents and officials informed of "weather related emergencies and advisories, road closures, parking restrictions, major crimes and collisions, missing persons and other incidents of public significance," according to a release by police.
Neither Facebook nor Twitter are appropriate for reporting crimes, incidents or other emergencies, Terlemezian said. "I can't emphasize that enough, that it is not for reporting in-progress incidents or emergencies," he said. "It is not for two-way communications," according to the release.
Anyone with an emergency should contact police by calling 911 or report incidents via the Citizen Online Reporting System on the department's website: www.ci.dover.nh.us/policehome.htm.
"Although these sites are monitored on a regular basis for content, there is no way to guarantee that the police department would see a Facebook posting or a tweet of an urgent nature," according to a release.