The Toronto Metro reports Police Officer, Kyle Ashley implemented social media training he learned as a tool to advocate for bicycle safety. Ashley is active on Twitter under the handle, TPS_ParkingPal. He describes his social media work, “It’s a long-lasting presence that goes beyond my eight hours on the road.” He is a strong proponent of vehicles finding appropriate parking and not blocking cyclists lanes.
In his work, Ashley highlights major safety concerns, provides advice to cyclists and motorists, and promotes the general safety of cyclists on Toronto’s roads. Through support from local cyclist organizations and fellow safety advocates, Ashley’s duty as a parking enforcement officer has transferred to specifically focus on bike lanes through June.
Maintaining the social media presence requires extensive research, Ashley explains, “Over the course of this month it’s evolved into me getting data, mapping that data and asking the community ‘do these areas reflect your problems?’”
Currently his Twitter account boasts more than 3,000 followers interested in the comings and goings of the avid cyclist and parking enforcement officer. As TPS_ParkingPal, Ashley uses images, particularly selfies and candid shots from his shifts to highlight cyclist concerns as well as parking violators. While unsure if he’ll remain focused on bike lane and cyclist concerns, Ashley remains an example of what policing education can do for officers and the communities they serve.
Wilfrid Laurier University’s online bachelor of arts in policing also addresses the relationship between social media and the police service. In PD 305: Media, Social Media and Crime,students examine the impacts of social media platforms such as Facebook, Twitter and YouTube on law enforcement and investigative practices. Students will learn how to effectively communicate with the general public through social media platforms. Learn more about how Laurier’s relevant online BA in policing coursework impacts police service members and their strategies here.