JCF not preaching to the choir with social media campaign
Dennis Brooks, senior communication strategist in the Jamaica Constabulary Force (JCF), says that there has been a significant increase in the number of tips the police have received from posts made on its social media accounts.
"We are absolutely seeing the result. You see by virtue of our improved intelligence gathering, a part of it is connected with our social media campaigning. We get many tips, many referrals and leads from our social media pages," he told THE STAR.
As of Saturday, March 5, the police have recovered 188 illegal guns and 4,628 rounds of ammunitions. They had seized 128 guns and 2,276 rounds of ammunition during the corresponding period in 2021. However, Brooks did not attribute the improved statistics to the shift in communication strategies. He did say, however, that the police are gaining the trust of young people with its more contemporary approach towards communication.
Since the start of the year, the JCF has launched various campaigns to encourage citizens to turn in wanted men and report the location of illegal guns.
"For many years the narrative surrounding the reporting of gunmen or suspicious activities, that narrative has been monopolised by one set of people. It has been monopolised by dancehall artistes and criminals, sometimes those two things overlap. They monopolised the conversation in a way that they were able to say yuh cyah report, and yuh cyah dis and yuh cyah that, if yuh know something yuh affi shut yuh mouth or else yah informa'," he said.
"I don't believe that that narrative must remain. I don't believe that that narrative has to be. We can change that narrative. We can take over that conversation and I have to introduce people to a wide range of emotions when it comes to reporting. The default emotional response that people have is fear, so we are now giving them laughter, hope, boldness and comfort."
Brooks said that for too long the people who the police need to be speaking to have been ignored in favour of the people who are already "on the choir".
"I am not here to preach to the choir. I am here to go into the byways and the edges and to bring them in. I will put reporting in a romantic context, I will put reporting in a religious context, I will use puns, I will use alliterations, I will use similes, metaphors and every literary devices at my disposal," he said.
"So I am targeting people who know or who might be able to report a gunman, or understand the dynamics going on there ... and next time we target somebody else in some kind of message."