The Wyandotte Police Department has joined the world of social media.

The department can now be found on Facebook and Twitter, using social media not only as a communication forum between officers and the public, but also as a means of relationship-building.

The accounts, created earlier this summer, are operated mostly by Sgt. Neil Hunter, along with John Truitt, the department’s IT person.

“I hope to assign at least one more person in the near future to assist me so we can stay more current with the happenings in our city,” Hunter said.

Ideally, that person would be someone who works on days when Hunter is off duty, he said.

Hunter got involved after witnessing the department’s younger officers accessing a wealth of information from social media, relative to the department’s investigations.

Those officers suggested to him that the Police Department become more current and should consider creating social media sites.

Hunter in turn sold the idea to Police Chief Brian Zalewski and Deputy Chief Archie Hamilton, who gave him the task of overseeing it.

The introduction of Facebook and Twitter accounts comes at a time of many changes at the department. Zalewski and Hamilton both were recently promoted to their positions of leadership in the department, and several new officers have been hired within the past two or three years.

Wyandotte police are a bit late in embracing social media, as many other Downriver departments have had Facebook and Twitter accounts for the past few years.

Hunter believes that’s probably because Wyandotte had an older police department.

“Once we transitioned to a younger workforce, we realized that we needed to get more with the times,” Hunter said. “We were definitely late to the party, but as the saying goes ‘better late than never.’”

One advantage of starting a Facebook account later than many other local departments is that Wyandotte can see what works and what doesn’t.

Hunter pointed to the Allen Park Police Department’s Facebook page as offering the style Wyandotte would like to adopt.

“I want to keep our social media a little more on the light and funny side, a la Allen Park PD,” Hunter said. “We will use it to pass along information to our citizens and friends and to work collectively with our followers through community events, and to solve crimes.”

Hunter called the public’s reaction “amazing.” Within the first two or three weeks, the department had nearly 2,000 Facebook friends.

In the early going, the department has met with great success in having the public assist officers in identifying persons of interest.

“This is the true definition of community policing — the police and citizens working together to solve crimes,” he said. “Our ultimate goal with social media is to continue to build our relationships with the citizens and friends of Wyandotte PD.”

Look for the department on Facebook at Wyandotte Police Department – Michigan and on Twitter at @WyandottePD.

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