Azusa PD launches social media team

icon.jpgAzusa Pacific University Resource Officer Mike Bires now heads the Azusa Police Department’s most recent project: a social media team.

Bires first proposed the social media group in Nov. of 2012, initially proposing to create the department’s own website. With previous Web design experience, Bires and his team members from the Azusa PD developed the website, which launched this year.

The social media team was put to the test Jan. 16 with the Colby Fire, which flared up the day after a group of police officers met to discuss the formation the San Gabriel Valley Law Enforcement Social Media Group. The officers met to discuss how to handle emergencies through social media on Jan. 15.

“We had no idea that in less than 24 hours, our department [would] be thrust into the limelight and [be] put to the test,” Bires said.

The Azusa PD’s Facebook page had 210 likes prior to the fire. After the fire, the number increased to 400.

“This shows the impact that there was an emergency and the people turned to social media,” Bires said.

As URO for APU, Bires reached out to students to volunteer for the social media team. Senior psychology major Erika Huth and senior computer science major Dylan Price learned about Bires’ team through the Office of Campus Safety.

“I hope to help expand the Azusa Police Department in a sense of giving them more of an online presence — helping out the community and connecting them closer through social media,” Price said.

With an interest in law enforcement after graduation, Huth looked to joining the program as a great opportunity to have Bires as a mentor.

“I have the same vision as Mike has — I want the community to see the department in a positive way. I want people to feel comfortable so that they can reach out to the department,” Huth said.

Bires also helps maintain the APU Office of Campus Safety social media sites.