Social Media: An Outreach Tool for Rural Communities

Since its humble transformation from a highway patrol in 1948, the Kentucky State Police (KSP) has always placed a high value on community policing. As a rural police agency that many citizens rely on as the sole law enforcement authority, local involvement and interaction became cornerstones of KSP’s mission. The reputation of trust and dependability that has evolved during the department’s historic journey has served it well in its mission of reducing crime and resolving issues of concerns to the communities it has sworn to protect. While traditional methodologies of community engagement are still practiced, KSP’s sphere of influence continues to expand through innovative social media practices.

Although the somewhat nostalgic sight of a trooper chatting with a local farmer at a fence line on a rural road still takes place, it became increasingly obvious that KSP needed to broaden its outreach. Approximately five years ago, the agency embarked on an aggressive path to bring its social media efforts to new levels. As the agency’s Facebook and Twitter accounts increased in popularity and followers, other supplemental outreach programs were taking place throughout the commonwealth. An annual Citizens Police Academy was launched at each of KSP’s 16 posts to give citizens a comprehensive and inside look at the workings of the agency. In addition to valuable alumni groups being created in many of the post areas, a large number of graduates became avid fans and followers of the KSP via its social media outlets.