Holland Public Safety capitalizing on social media

HOLLAND, Mich. (NEWSCHANNEL 3) - A West Michigan police department is turning to technology to help crack down on crime.

The Holland Department of Public Safety is using Facebook and Twitter to generate leads from the public, and to let the community know they're there for them 24/7.

It's all part of Holland's community policing efforts, which are aimed at encouraging the public to be an extra set of ears and eyes along the lakeshore.

With the help of social media, they're following up on extra tips and leads, and more times than not, the response is instant.

When it comes to work, Holland Public Safety Captain Jack Dykstra is always 'on.'

Beyond his computer, his iPad and iPhone are valuable tools for keeping the community safe.

"Law enforcement needs to be relevant, when we're not conneted to the community, when we're not relevant, that's when we're not as effective," Dykstra said.

In the last few months, the department has turned to Twitter, after logging on to Facebook a few years prior.

Dykstra says the community response has been huge--eager to engage online, to help solve crimes, offer solutions, and get a behind the scenes look at the department.

"People are so willing to help and so willing to be part of the solution," he said.

Most recently, the department started posting photos of people they want to question.

"Those posts are the more popular ones; we call them 'Do you know me,'" Dykstra said.

Of 8 pictures the department has posted so far, 7 have been identified with the help of others.

Beyond that, social media is giving the department a new way to connect.

"We will answer any question; we don't pick and choose what we will answer," Dykstra said.

It's keeping current on technology that's keeping Holland dialed in to the pulse of the community.

"We're all in this together; everyone wants a safe community, so the more we work together to solve those problems, the better it's going to be," said Dykstra.

Captain Dykstra also reminded us that if there's an emergency, your first move should always be to call 9-1-1, but social media has provided a good communication tool.

Most recently, suggestions prompting a road audit after a deadly crash on M-40 just a few months ago.

If you want to give the department a follow, you can click below.