The Alhambra Police Department and Mayor Stephen Sham have debuted the Department's official Weibo account in an effort to improve outreach to its Chinese residents. The Department will use the Chinese microblogging website, similar to Twitter, to communicate with immigrants in Alhambra and elsewhere in the San Gabriel Valley and internationally. The Alhambra Police Department is the first police department in the U.S. to use Weibo as a tool to reach out to the community.
“The Alhambra Police Department would like to use Weibo as a means of increasing communication, trust and engagement with the Chinese population in Alhambra.” Alhambra Police Chief Mark Yokoyama said, “We feel Weibo is a networking tool that many in the Chinese community are aware of and are comfortable with and we want to tap into that line of communication.”
Alhambra City Mayor, Stephen Sham, has always been interested in increasing community engagement with the Chinese community and has worked closely with Police Chief Mark Yokoyama in implementing various strategies. Recently the police chief read a story in the Alhambra Source by Walter Ma – “Five Ways to Engage Chinese Immigrants.” Chief Yokoyama invited the Alhambra Source as a partner to meet and talk about ways to outreach to Chinese immigrants.
Weibo currently has more than 500 million users, a similar reach to Twitter’s 500 million users. A few other government agencies in the United States have started to use the social media site mainly for tourism purposes, but this will likely be the first initiative to specifically outreach to Chinese immigrants living in the country.
Alhambra PD's first Weibo campaign will use the hashtag #问美国警察 (#AskAmericanPolice).
In Alhambra, more than half of Alhambra’s 85,000 residents are Asian, and about three quarters of them are Chinese, according to recent census data. Many of these recent immigrants come from mainland China and remain connected through online news and social media outlets, such as Weibo, while living in America.
In addition to outreach via social media, Al hambra Source, a local news site developed by scholars and students from the USC Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism, will help the police department engage with the local Chinese community by providing translation resources, collecting questions from residents and businesses at various locations throughout the City, hosting a forum and publishing the results online. Alhambra PD will provide official answers in Chinese that will be disseminated through Weibo, on Alhambra Source and in the Chinese media. The Alhambra Police Department is also interested in recruiting community engagement volunteers that are Chinese speaking to do outreach in the community. Together, they hope to help the Chinese community and all Alhambra residents and visitors understand local rules and laws, communicate with one another, and improve overall public safety. Recruiting sufficient Asian and Chinese-speaking officers is a challenge for police departments throughout the Los Angeles County area and it is the desire of the department to increase engagement of the community through volunteerism.
Alhambra Police Department Weibo: http://weibo.com/alhambrapolice