North Augusta police using memes to curb crime
Memes featuring characters and celebrities like Kevin Hart, Judge Judy, Austin Powers and Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer dot the North Augusta Department of Public Safety’s Instagram page bearing the hashtag #9pmroutine, and those posts may help keep valuables safe.
The 9 p.m. routine is a reminder to people to take their valuables – wallets, firearms, jewelry – out of the car and lock the car doors, and Public Safety officer Tim Stembridge thinks it may be making a difference.
“There’s been a lot of positive feedback as far as it working, and I don’t have any statistics or numbers to say, but I have noticed lately – say in the last several months, it seems – our burglaries or car break-ins seem to have declined, and I’m sure this is not 100 percent what’s causing it, but I kind of feel like it helps,” Stembridge said.
He’s in charge of the department’s social media accounts and follows dozens of police departments across the country. He started seeing posts about the 9 p.m. routine and thought they were funny.
“I thought ‘Well, if I think it’s funny a lot of other people will think it’s funny and then maybe they’ll pay a little more attention,’” he said.
Stembridge finds memes online, and has made a few of his own. His personal friends, along with people who follow the accounts, have mentioned the posts to him in person and through comments, saying they helped them remember to check their valuables.
The 9 p.m. routine isn’t the only thing that gets posted on the department’s social media accounts; they also post photos of persons of interest they’re searching for and road closures.
Stembridge said he tries to keep the page as positive as possible.
“I hope it works,” he said. “If nothing else you get a good chuckle out of it.”
The department’s Facebook page is called North Augusta Public Safety, and gets dozens, up to hundreds, of shares on each post. The Twitter handle for the department is @NorthAugustaDPS, and the Instagram name is @napublicsafety.