Off the Streets, Boston Police Are Top of the Class For Social Media Presence

'Boston's Finest' aren't just on TV—they are also good with Twitter, according to rankings from a public health advocacy group.


Photo by Regina Mogilevskaya

While first responders in Boston have been hailed for their efforts in apprehending the Boston Marathon bombing suspects, they are also receiving accolades for their hard work online.

According to a list compiled by Master’s of Public Health Programs, an advocacy group that promotes the public health field and provides students with information in graduate public health, public administration, and public policy, the Boston Police Department is the second most active and social media-savvy in the nation.

By examining the 100 largest city departments in the country, based on each location’s population, MPHP broke down the list from “best to good,” dissecting their social media following and overall activity, to compile a list of the “50 Most Social Media Friendly Police Departments.”

The BPD, with a score of 92.3 out of 100, came in just behind Dallas’s police force. Rankings were based on Facebook likes, number of Twitter followers and tweets, plus YouTube views, videos, and subscribers. The rankings also considered external programs and sites used to get information out to constituents. They ranked No. 1 in the Facebook and Twitter categories. To date, Boston Police have 85,100 Facebook likes, 330,032 Twitter followers, and have tweeted 6,428 times.

On average, the police put a status update online every hour or so, while working in daily information about arrests and other crimes. Of course, the recent tragedy in Boston spiked the department’s following in all categories by quite a bit, given the national—and even international— attention that the city received during and after the bombing investigations. Boston Police are also the stars of a hit television show, which airs across the country on TNT, called “Boston’s Finest.”

But MPHP says despite the rapid growth in the social media following during and after the attack, the department already had a good handle on their online practices. MPHP says of the ranking:

The Department was able to act quickly to disseminate details of the crime to the public because using social media in this manner was already second nature. Their Twitter and Facebook accounts were already established and well-used prior to the attack.

According to the website’s data, “since [April 15], the Boston Police Department has gained approximately 70,000 followers on Facebook, and 275,000 on Twitter.” They have illustrated the uptick in this graph:

Image via MPHP

Image via MPHP

Boston Police aren’t the only ones that have kept people informed in the city when it comes to public health, safety and news. The Boston Fire Department aggressively tweets photos from the scenes of each fire, and the Boston EMS and MBTA Transit Police are always on task to live Tweet certain circumstances. Cambridge Police have also beefed up their online presence, providing live radio scanner reports through their Twitter feed. “It is important that police departments are able to communicate information to the public in a timely manner, not just in case of a terrorist attack, but in any type of public emergency. The police are first responders in all sorts of situations, and are frequently the first to know about hazards that people need to be made aware of,” according to MPHP’s website.