Basketball, Marijuana And Poetry: These Police Tweet More Than Crime Alerts – NPR

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Police officer in Lawrence, Kan. watch thunderstorms move past the city in 2008. Orlin Wagner/AP hide caption

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Friday is April 20, a day that some people celebrate by smoking marijuana. The Police Department in Lawrence, Kan., is preparing for this week’s pot holiday by sending safety tips via their official Twitter account, run by officer Drew Fennelly.

Hey potheads planning to toke up on 4/20, stay off the road. Stock up on Cheetos and Mt. Dew BEFORE you spark. Saturation patrols to find drugged drivers to occur-

— Lawrence Police (@LawrenceKS_PD) April 17, 2018

Those tweets have gotten thousands of likes, and they aren’t the only ones; the account has more than 100,000 followers. Fennelly says that using humor serves a purpose: The funnier the tweet, the more likely the department’s updates reach a wider audience.

When Fennelly was a neighborhood resource officer in 2014, the Lawrence Police had a Facebook account with only 1,500 likes, and he was searching for a way the department could better engage with their community.

But when he first pitched the Twitter account in 2015, Fennelly says he had to get approval for almost everything he posted.

“Initially, our tweets were bad, so we didn’t have much of a following in the beginning,” he says. “[There were] lots of hashtags, lots of ‘@ mentions,’ really boring stuff.”

Then in March 2016, he tweeted about the University of Kansas loss to Villanova University in the NCAA college basketball tournament. Fennelly says it was the first humorous tweet he tried in an attempt to increase their engagement.

Sorry, we can’t investigate Villanova ripping your heart out of your chest, the crime occurred outside our jurisdiction. #RCJH

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