Protecting the community, getting the likes

Edgartown Police Department uses social media to ‘stay connected to the community.’

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Protecting, serving, and editing a video timelapse for Facebook is all in a day’s work for Edgartown Police Officer William Bishop.

Bishop took the lead on the social media accounts for the Edgartown Police Department three years ago, posting pictures of Edgartown sunsets, sharing end-of-the-year highlight videos, and connecting with the community through Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.

“We didn’t have a big presence,” Bishop said. “We’re part of the community, too. We live here and work here.”

Bishop runs the day-to-day operations for the lively accounts, and Lt. Chris Dolby oversees all the social media pages, but everything is a collaborative effort from all the department’s officers. “I’m the guy who hits post, but it’s a team effort,” Bishop said.

Bishop credits the Bourne Police Department as his biggest influence. He said along with the regular posts from their department, they often highlight positive things in their community, and get a lot interaction on their pages by posting pictures and videos.

Starting with sunrise photos, Bishop moved on to throwback photos, and most recently has gotten into videography. “It’s an important aspect of what we do to stay connected to the community,” Bishop said.

The idea is that the department can increase its reach in the community and to people it might not have met with sites like Facebook.

The reach goes both ways. While the department can get to know the community better, the community can get to know the department.

“It’s nice to know the officers,” Bishop said. “It adds comfort for people.”

After Bishop posted a time-lapse video of a cruise down Main Street during the holidays, there was playful banter from commenters. “Do you know how fast you were going?” Todd Hanna wrote with an “lol” at the end.

“Know what I like about Edgartown Police Department?” Caesar Bach wrote. “They’re actually people, not ‘the law.’”

The focus is never to do things with the hope it will go viral. Bishop said the department just tries to capture some of the things that make Edgartown so special, whether that’s a sunset or a picture of officers helping deliver food during the holidays.

“You never know what’s going to take off, and I try not to force things. We just try to be ourselves,” he said. “Get people involved and keep a positive message on the page.”