First the NYPD took to Twitter to polish its image, now it's blogging.
The NYPD has started a new website to better communicate with New Yorkers, and experts say it will be valuable tool in light of recent high-profile accusations of misbehavior and brutality. The department launched NYPDnews.com Wednesday, a blog filled with positive stories about the police, including tales of heroism and reports on officers going the extra mile to help the city. The blog also lists advisories about wanted criminals.
William Ward, a professor of social media at Syracuse University, said the site is good move to improve the NYPD's relations with New Yorkers.
"It's an opportunity for them to be more open and transparent," he said. "If they can build that ongoing trust they will have an audience that supports them."
The blog is the latest in a series of steps taken by the NYPD to boost its social media presence this year.
Police Commissioner Bill Bratton and precinct heads set up accounts on Twitter this year and the NYPD has been active in communicating with the public online.
Although the officers have had hundreds of followers, there have been some missteps like the #myNYPD campaign in April where New Yorkers used the hashtag to publish photos and videos of alleged police misconduct instead of good deeds.
John DeCarlo, an associate professor at John Jay College of Criminal Justice, said the timing of the blog was crucial since the public has a growing distrust of the NYPD and police forces around the country due to mounting reports of alleged officer misconduct. A Quinnipiac University poll in August found that half of New Yorkers approve the way the police do their job, a decline from a 68% rating in March.
Recent videos, including the "chokehold" arrest of Eric Garner, another showing an officer pistol whip a Brooklyn teen and another allegedly showing an officer steal cash from a suspect have gone viral, so the NYPD needed to get on social media to promote the positive work it does, according to DeCarlo.
"Some officers are going to do some wrong things, but the 99.9% of them are doing good things," he said. "I think this is a venue that shows people that there are a lot of cops who do the right thing."
City Councilman Jumaane Williams, who has been critical of the NYPD in the past, said the blog is a step forward in improving community relations but it also needed to be backed up by improved relations offline.
"It's a good thing to have a blog and a Twitter [account], but what are the officers doing? Are they talking to people on the street, are they talking to store owners? Are they getting to know the community?" said Williams (D-Flatbush).
The NYPD said it will take feedback from the public and make improvements to the blog in the future. Cops have been finessing their social media work and some even got a Twitter training session last month at John Jay College.
Ward said he hopes the NYPD makes the most of its new blog.
"I hope it isn't a place that just doesn't push out news releases," Ward said. "They need to make the people of the community and the police officers the heroes and make sure they are open with the public."