This may be the only time that I use the words "cute" and "police" in the same sentence, but here it goes: The metropolitan police in Reykjavik, Iceland have the cutest Instagram account ever. Seriously. It's full of adorable kids, furry animals, and, yes, donuts. It's good to have a healthy dose of self-awareness (and donuts).
Cops on social media is far from a new thing. A 2013 survey done by the International Association of Chiefs of Police shows that 96 percent of law enforcement agencies in the United States are using social media in some capacity, but it's been done to widely varied degrees of effectiveness. (NYPD, cough, cough.)
In Seattle, for example, the informative and occasionally hilarious Seattle Police Department Twitter account opened up communication between the men and women in blue. They won considerable (pot) brownie points when they announced on their feed that they would hand out Doritos at the city's Hempfest just after marijuana was decriminalized.
But social media campaigns don't always sit well with civilians. In an attempt to build camaraderie with its audience, the New York Police Department invited Twitter users to post pictures of themselves with a member of the NYPD with the hashtag #myNYPD. In a major, embarrassing backfire, Twitterers used the hashtag to upload photos of police brutality.
With its Instagram feed, the Reykjavik force rides the line between keeping the citizens informed and humanizing its officers. It's an effective way to put the public at ease with officers, but the photos seem like more than just a highly-successful PR stunt. This group of metro police officers seem like the only ones that I would want to go down to the station to hang out with.
Granted, there are a few reasons this feed works so well. Violent crime in Iceland is almost non-existent. The homicide rates rest around 1.8 per 100,000 population (the global rate is 7.6). The police force is unarmed, too. The only armed officers are a special force called, I kid you not, the Viking Squad.
The BBC speculates that the overall low crime rate could be, in part, due to the income equality. A survey showed that 97 percent of people in Iceland identify themselves somewhere within the middle class.
So while the NYPD is keeping busy and maybe doesn't have a whole lot of time to think through its social media strategy, the Icelandic police have a little less crime to deal with, leaving them time to connect with the people.
Did you ever think you'd follow a police department on Instagram?
Images: logreglan/Instagram (8)