California Police Chief- Fall 2013 - Page 27

Alhambra PD Wins CPCA Technology and Innovation Award A lhambra PD was the first recipient of the CPCA Technology and Innovation Award. The CPCA Excellence in Technology Innovation Award is sponsored by Motorola and recognizes a California municipal police agency’s superior achievement and innovation in the field of information technology. This award program is designed to recognize exceptional, innovative, and extraordinary achievement in law enforcement technology-based programs, efforts, or initiatives that benefit law enforcement as a profession. Cal Chiefs received over 10 applications highlighting innovations varying from Intra office debriefing systems to the implementation of body worn cameras. We would like to thank the following agencies for their submissions: Anaheim PD, Berkeley PD, Indio PD, Mountain View PD, Petaluma PD, Redlands PD, Rialto PD, San Francisco PD and Vacaville PD. In December of 2013 the Alhambra Police Department became the first U.S. Police Department to utilize China’s version of Facebook and Twitter with more than 500 million followers world-wide known as Weibo. The all-Chinese language social media platform was chosen as a means to reach out to the large Chinese population in Alhambra in an effort to overcome barriers and challenges associated with cultural differences such as limited English proficiency, lack of community engagement, lack of trust or understanding of municipal government or police services, and no direct communication or formed partnerships with the police. Alhambra PD is a medium-sized agency in Los Angeles County, bordering the City of Los Angeles, and serves a residential population of 85,000. Of this population, 53% are of Asian descent and of that number 65-70%, or approximately 30,000, are ethnically Chinese. In addition, the City of Alhambra houses a majority of the Chinese business population for the surrounding Los Angeles area including restaurants, medical services and banking headquarters. “What businesses crave is public safety. I think that’s one of the things that businesses want and need,” says Chief Yokoyama. “If they know the types of crimes that are going on around their area, they’re more likely to be aware and take measures to prevent themselves from becoming victims.” Prior to launching its Weibo account Alhambra PD recruited a volunteer from the community who was well versed in the Chinese language and social media to serve as its community engagement coordinator. The coordinator’s role was to build the police department’s Weibo page, a free and readily available open source service, and going forward to maintain posts that mirrored the department’s already successful Facebook page. Within the first 24 hours of the launch of Weibo, Alhambra PD saw over 1,500 followers. This was about equal to the total amount of followers to their Facebook at the time. Since Weibo’s launch the department has garnered 6,700 followers to date and averages 30,000 views per day. The department has already seen an increase in interaction with its Chinese population with various success stories and considers the initiative an enhancement to its community policing philosophy. “If we increase that engagement,” says Yokoyama, “if we increase that communication, if we increase that trust, I truly believe we’ll have an impact on public safety in our community.” ■ SPRING 2014 | California Police Chief 27