Can Social Media Help Our Community?
When Hazelwood students met the Chief of Police at Boston College, William B. Evans today at Hazelwood Integrated College, it was very evident that they had something in common – “social media”.
Mr Evans, a nationally respected police leader with 38 years of experience in law enforcement and community policing took the time in a busy schedule to visit Hazelwood Integrated College, alongside local community police officers from the Police Service of Northern Ireland.
A lifetime Boston Police Officer who began his career as a patrol officer in 1982, he rose steadily through the ranks to become the city’s Police Commissioner.
During his tenure as Police Commissioner, Mr Evans has been credited with diversifying the Boston Police force, enhancing police training for the city’s officers, and building effective relationships with residents, students, and business owners through open dialogue and transparency.
Through a question and answer session the students learned that Mr Evans led the strategic response team that was instrumental in capturing the Boston Marathon bombing suspect, and was responsible for security of all major events in Boston. Mr Evans explained to the students the power and impact that social media had through this horrendous event. The Boston Police Department used social media to communicate during this crisis. They specifically used Twitter to counter false rumors and press leaks which occurred throughout the crisis. The Boston Police Department massively increased its Twitter followership through the event and is now one of the leading departments in social media engagement. Mr Evans shared with the students that he enjoyed his career every day. He accounted his energy and love for his career down to his willingness to help people and his own personal fitness. He himself, an hour after completing the Boston Marathon on that dreadful day was back at work leading the investigations.
Engaging with the police through social media can have a positive impact in any community across the globe. The students were interested to hear from the Police Officers of Northern Ireland on the how policing here compares to policing in Boston. The officers gave them an insight and understanding of how the Policing of Northern Ireland has changed dramatically over the years due to how they engage and communicate with the local community. One student commented “We hear so much about how social media can have a negative impact on today’s society so it was good to hear and share a positive stance on how social media can actually help our community”.
The Principal, Ms Maire Thompson, commented on today’s visit “It was lovely to have Mr William Evans, Chief of Police at Boston College, alongside our local community police officers engaging with our young people here at Hazelwood Integrated College. The way in which the world interacts and how we as a population communicate is ever changing and by engaging with the young people of today will affect the lifestyle of the next generation. I would like to thank Mr Evans for visiting our college and I hope he enjoys his visit to Northern Ireland”.