IF WE HAVE LEARNED nothing else in the past month here in Kamloops, we have learned that even a tragedy of national proportion such as the crash of the Snowbird on May 17, and subsequent the death of Captain Jennifer Casey and injury of its pilot Captain Rich MacDougall won’t get Kamloops RCMP out on Twitter.
There has been an ongoing stream of news stories, as well as messages of sympathy and support for Casey’s family and friends, for MacDougall, and for all the Snowbirds. Both on Twitter, and in all other types of media, there were thousands of stories, and messages posted.
The Kamloops RCMP issued just one tweet on Twitter. Immediately after the event they tweeted “Plane crash in Kamloops”, with an attached press release.
At that point the event was just unfolding, so the press release simply told people to stay away from the Brocklehurst neighborhood. No mention was made of the Snowbirds, Casey or MacDougall.
After that one terse tweet, the Kamloops RCMP issued no more tweets on the incident. There were no Twitter follow ups about the crash whatsoever from Kamloops RCMP after the crash. Nothing.
Meanwhile, a continent away, RCMP Nova Scotia, tweeted a poignant tweet remembering Casey as one of their own:
“Today, our hearts hurt for the @CFSnowbirds as well as their family, friends, comrades and community. We’re sending thoughts of support to @RCAF_ARC, and we send best wishes to Capt. MacDougall. #NovaScotiaStrong”
In the last four weeks, the Kamloops RCMP tweeted just three times. One for a near drowning on the Thompson River, then the tweet about the crash, and a third about a man stealing a row boat on the river.
If anyone was following the police tweets in Kamloops, they would think, aside from an occasional plane crash, our city was a relatively sleepy town.
In the same period of time, Kelowna RCMP has tweeted about TWO missing persons, drug seizures, charges laid on break and entry, traffic collisions, and multiple tweets about bicycle thefts. They had tweets about an attempted murder, frauds in the Central Okanagan, and a photo of an alleged criminal.
They proactively tweeted about a public Facebook contest for National Police Week, and #TrafficTuesday about vehicles yielding to pedestrians, and cyclists.
They even poked a bit of fun at themselves by showing one of their members getting a “haircut” from the RCMP bear mascot as part of a fundraiser. And even more tweets than that.
Kelowna RCMP takes its tweeting seriously. It uses it as a tool to effectively communicate about serious crimes, crime prevention and public information. The Kelowna RCMP sees the importance of communicating with the public via Twitter.
The citizens of Kamloops deserve the same level of communication on Twitter from the Kamloops RCMP that people in Kelowna get.
The Kamloops RCMP was part of a tremendous first responder action after the Snowbird crash. Their hands-on response helped keep a tragic event from getting even worse, and kept people safe. But policing is many things, and one of those things is communicating with the community.
Twitter is an essential way that many people get information, and it is one that Kamloops RCMP needs to take more seriously.
Nancy Bepple is a former City councillor of Kamloops with a strong interest in community building projects.