News / Winnipeg

TLDR: Winnipeg police officer sets record straight on Reddit

The Winnipeg Police Service public information officer joined the online community three months ago, after noticing inaccurate speculation about police activity.

Public information officer Const. Jay Murray at a media conference.

Jade Markus / Metro Order this photo

Public information officer Const. Jay Murray at a media conference.

If you’re a Reddit-user in Winnipeg, somewhere between the comment boards and funny cat videos you may have noticed Const. Jay Murray.

The Winnipeg Police Service public information officer joined the online community three months ago, after noticing inaccurate speculation about police activity.

“I thought, Reddit, it’s a growing community, there’s a lot of police-related threads and it’s an opportunity for us to provide clarity or advice,” Murray said.

The account allows him to quell speculation—but it also means he can engage with the city’s population.

“The Reddit community is unique because there’s a lot of discussion there, it’s not just us putting out a release,” Murray said.

It’s also the first time the Winnipeg Police Service has had a personalized account for one of its officers, he said—the police Facebook and Twitter accounts include all the public information officers, and issue messages on behalf of the police service.

Russ Paterson, lead instructor at Assiniboine Community College’s Police Studies program—and member of the Brandon Police Service—said teaching students about police communication and the internet has become a growing trend.  

“Social media was hardly even in its infancy ten years ago, now we tend to reach out a lot, whether it be Twitter accounts or Facebook accounts, public information is disseminated that way,” Paterson said.

But it’s pretty easy to teach since, “the cadets themselves—most of them come into the program and they’re already very adept at social media.”

The rising use of social media in police communication has had a net benefit in overall clarity, Paterson said—officers can now send out press releases directly to the public and live stream conferences on Facebook.  

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