Lawrence is known for a lot of things, including KU hoops. But increasingly, it’s becoming known for the Police Department’s hilarious tweets about the University of Kansas team.
The quips from the Lawrence Police Department’s Twitter account began about one year ago, after another KU hoops loss in the Elite Eight. Last March, Officer Drew Fennelly tweeted about Kansas’ loss to Villanova. And it earned the department a lot of positive attention.
The goal for the department’s social media usage had always been to engage citizens and build trust in the community, Fennelly said. That’s how the public affairs officer pitched the idea to expand social media in February 2015. By New Year’s Eve that year, Fennelly transitioned to being a full-time social media man.
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But last March’s tweet about KU’s loss marked a shift in Fennelly’s strategy. He decided humor in his tweets garnered engagement, and after that tweet, the department’s following exploded. Today, the account boasts more than 20,000 followers.
“Citizens are naturally curious about what goes on in law enforcement,” said the former KU communication student. But because of the nature of investigative work, in which releasing information can compromise a case, the department contends with the appearance of being secretive, Fennelly said.
Social media accounts counter that. “The idea is to be more transparent and open,” he said.
His use of humor has won over thousands of fans. He did it by finding a voice for the account. “It was hard to do that initially ... but you have to find your brand.”
Fennelly entertained hordes of mourning KU fans on Saturday, when the Jayhawks were once again defeated in the Elite Eight, this time by the Oregon Ducks.
Fans of KU’s rivals started rubbing in KU’s loss, mentioning the Lawrence Police Department in tweets about the Jayhawks’ choking.
Fennelly responded with two silencing clapbacks.
The repartee seems informal, but the goal of building trust with the community is a serious one. And Fennelly reported that the tweeting has paid dividends for officers on the streets.
“Officers say that people are more willing to come up to them and say, ‘Hey, how’s it going? I love your Twitter account,’ ” Fennelly said. “It makes them feel more comfortable talking to officers.”
Even though Fennelly jokes about KU’s losses, he’s a diehard fan. When asked whether he’ll root for the Ducks in the Final Four after they beat his Jayhawks, he responded: “Absolutely not. Jayhawks or bust.”
Here are some more funny and informative tweets from the Lawrence Police Department’s Twitter.
Fennelly, who attended KU from 2003 to 2006, said he has participated in some Mass Street celebrations, including after the school’s last basketball championship in 2008.