Marshfield Police Department Embraces Social Media
With one of the most engaging Facebook pages in the community, Marshfield Police Department uses social media to improve public relations, inform the community, and increase successful investigations.
“It’s one of the many way we look at getting messages, alerts, and information out to the public,” said Chief Rick Gramza. “Education is the biggest goal that we have.”
Whether informing citizens about a warrant, seeking help identifying a suspect in a retail theft, dispelling myths or clarifying ordinances, or encouraging residents to drive safely during snowy conditions, all posts are designed to protect the community.
“We try to time it with the community and what’s happening within the community, and we try to add some humor in there when appropriate,” said Gramza. “We want to let the community and our citizens and visitors know that although we are law enforcement, we are humans and we enjoy a sense of humor. We’re not out to make your life miserable. We’re here to be a part of the community. Social media is one way that we try to display it.”
Humor is an important part of social media, but due to the nature of police work, out of necessity some posts are more serious than others.
“We’ll often put press releases out to the community for a variety of reasons,” said Gramza. “Sometimes it’s to support previous statements that we’ve made. If we’ve said we have a drug problem, we’ll then post when there’s a drug seizure. There are also times when we put out a press release when it pertains to safety and what we feel is in the best interest of the safety of the community, such as notice of a sex offender release.”
No matter the content of the post, Gramza’s goal is always to inform and educate the public, and keep people safe.
“It’s not personal towards any one individual or business or entity,” he said. “The goal is to protect the community and to be transparent. There are times when I feel if we would have not put the bulletin out and an individual or business made the media a year from now, we may be called to question then as to why we didn’t have the community’s best interest in mind at the time.”
Additionally, Gramza wants people who come to him to know that their reported
information is taken seriously. All posts are given careful evaluation, and in the interest of the investigation, the department posts only that information necessary for the public to know at the given time.
“When we put out community notices or information on cases looking to have help solved, we’re not giving all of the information for a reason. We’re not necessarily going to give all facts of the case because that might compromise the investigation,” said Gramza. “I just want the community to be cautious, to know that they don’t have the facts that we have.”
Always keeping in mind innocence until proven guilty, the department does sometimes need to request information of a more sensitive nature, all of which is carefully considered and approached.
“When an arrest is made and we feel there may be additional victims who maybe didn’t have the courage to come forward, we will post something,” said Gramza. “It’s not our goal to ruin the reputation of any individual or business or entity. It’s to investigate a case, find the facts, and make a decision as to whether something criminal occurred.”
He added that even though Marshfield Police Department may believe a crime occurred, this doesn’t mean the District Attorney or jury will believe a crime occurred, however MPD is the first step in the judicial process.
“It’s our job to inform the public,” he said. “It’s hard to do at times without it impacting an individual, but the intention is never personal. It’s more globally what’s in the best interest of the individuals. I can’t have just one person’s best interest in mind, I need to have a more global view.”
Criminal investigations are complicated, and the department exercises due diligence in the pursuit of justice and public protection.
“When allegations are made, we’re trying to sort through the info given to us,” said
Gramza. “It’s also our goal to find fault in the truth. If we believed everything everybody said, we wouldn’t be doing our job. It’s our job to find the facts in the case, to see if there’s a case to be had, a chargeable offense. We get as much satisfaction out of clearing someone that was wrongly accused as we do holding someone accountable that was rightly accused.”
Being accountable for the public safety of the community is no small feat, but Gramza and the Marshfield Police Department are hopeful that social media can continue to be a useful tool in helping them do their jobs well.
“Our goal is to inform and educate the public, and keep the public safe,” reiterated Gramza. “We want to be seen as more than robots responding to calls, and the overarching goal of social media is improving community relations.”
A few reminders:
- In an emergency, always dial 9-1-1.
- Messaging on Facebook is a great way to communicate, but know that the response time is not urgent.
- Your messages are private, however are still part of the judicial process.
- From time to time our posts may encourage you to engage with us and the community, we ask that you are diligent and carefully consider your response.