BATH TOWNSHIP, Mich. – When calling the police in Bath Township, you may get the POPO. Reportedly, the staff at the police department don’t want to take their jobs too seriously.
Follow the department on Facebook and it shows, reported Lansing State Journal.
A message and accompanying photo posted Saturday has gone viral with thousands of responses. Moreover, it was reported nationally by Fox News.
“Our philosophy is to just humanize us and let people know we like to have fun,” said Avery Lyon, the township’s public information officer.
The online frenzy started after Officer Michael Lapham, decided to have some fun with Microsoft Paint and a photo of a township police cruiser’s unpainted doors.
Lapham used the program to add the word “POPO” — slang for police — to one side of the dark blue sports utility vehicle.
The department drew responses fast and furious.
As of 10 a.m. Wednesday, the post drew over 7000 reactions, 3,100 shares and 684 comments. Quite a response from a small town.
An excerpt of the department’s message with the doctored up photo:
“We’ve found though, that we are still struggling to really reach the younger folk out there. So in an effort to bridge that gap, we’ve decided to update our patrol car graphics in an attempt to be more relatable to the local youths.”
Lyon, 26, said township police’s Facebook page has grown from 100 followers to about 30,000 over a three-year span.
Last spring, officers’ staged video of a motorist asking for his ticket to be dismissed that drew over 116,000 views.
Here we see a comical post of “protesters” blocking the roadway:
And this was recently posted referring to a change in weather:
The Facebook page is monitored closely by three administrators in the department who have undergone social media training.
Moreover, they follow a program created by the Rosenberg (Texas) Police Department but don’t hesitate to go a bit off script.
With nearly every post comes multiple responses to followers who may ask questions, heap words of praise or unload with angry rants.
“We learn each day we make a post,” Lyon said.
Scott Berry, the sheriff of Oconee County, Georgia, with a population of around 36,000, has made a big splash on Facebook with over 92,500 followers. He uses a similar approach. Sheriff Berry has found Facebook to be a great tool to build a good relationship with not only his community, but also many more people outside his community. What is the trick you ask? Berry says, “You have to be yourself!”
Will Holley, 39, of Washington D.C. enjoys Beth Township Police Department’s creativity and stumbled upon the Facebook “popo” post in a group for U.S. Air Force security forces members.
Holley, an Air Force veteran, didn’t know Bath Township exists until he saw the photo and read its message.
“I love the fact Bath Township replies back,” Holley said. “That makes it even funnier.”
The Urban Dictionary defines “popo” as “a police officer, especially the ones that ride on bikes.”
The term, according to the dictionary website, dates back to the late 1980s in California.
The dictionary said officers were first seen around that time patrolling beaches on bikes with vests that said “PO” in block letters on their chests.
Regardless of how it began, other law enforcement sources in Southern California say the slang became popular by gang members referring to the police as popo.
What do you think? Is it good fun, or un-pro-pro-fessional?