Adding a little lighthearted fun to their work has brought a new appreciation for the work of Boulder City’s police officers.
A new, comedic tone to posts on Boulder City Police Department’s Facebook page has boosted its popularity and significantly increased awareness of officers’ jobs.
The social media page took a comedic turn with its posts around mid-October, with long and intentionally cheesy hashtags and occasional pop culture references becoming the norm for the account. The department’s Facebook page will often post comedic stories about low-level arrests, common traffic infractions and scams, poking fun at the offenders without identifying them directly.
Sgt. Pete Wheeler, the officer behind the page, said he was inspired by other comedic police Facebook accounts and wanted to make the page something that people actually wanted to read.
Wheeler described the department’s old posts as not the stuff people would want to read.
“They read like you’re reading a police report,” he said. “I can tell you right now, police reports are not entertaining. They’re not stuff that you’re gonna want to come back and read more of.”
Wheeler said the department’s account has skyrocketed in popularity since he began doing comedic posts. The account now sports more than 7,000 followers since the change in tone last October.
While the reaction to this new approach has been generally positive, Wheeler noted that some Facebook users are critical of the department’s posts. Many of the critics say that someone’s arrest is a serious matter and the department shouldn’t poke fun at those people.
To that, Wheeler noted that he never posts about serious crimes like domestic violence or anything involving a death. When he does write about serious topics, he doesn’t use the comedic tone of the other Facebook posts.
Wheeler said he intentionally doesn’t identify the people being arrested beyond a brief description of the car and sometimes age if it’s relevant to the story. He also won’t post about an arrest if the person being arrested asks not to have a post about them.
“We’re not out here to ruin your life,” said Wheeler. “That is far from the purpose of the police department, and it’s also far from the purpose of the Facebook posts.”
Wheeler said the positive feedback generated from the page is more affecting to officers because it goes beyond the standard “Thank you for your service” the officers are used to. He said they appreciate people saying “good job” specifically for work that they did on shift.
Now Wheeler said he’s been getting messages from police that aren’t on his shift about arrests that could possibly make for a good post.
“This is a way for us to tell our friends funny stories without having to get cornered at the family gathering to tell stories,” he said.