To better connect to community, KC police now on Pinterest

The long arm of the law — at least in Kansas City — is extending its reach on the Internet.

The Kansas City Police Department, which thinks it may be the first law enforcement agency in the country to do so, recently joined the burgeoning social media site Pinterest.

The photo-driven site, which describes itself as a “digital inspiration board,” has more than 20 million users and is growing fast. And the vast majority of Pinterest users are women, according to online marketing research.

“This reaches a larger group that may not have been engaged in our other social media efforts,” said department spokesman Captain Steve Young.

Those previous efforts have included the police chief’s blog, Twitter, Facebook and YouTube.

“We think it’s a way to build partnerships and connect with the community in a way we never could before,” said Sarah Boyd of the department’s media relations unit.

Officers can attend community meetings or speak with people while they are on patrol, but those encounters don’t show the breadth of all the department does, she said.

“With social media we can convey the entirety of the Police Department,” Boyd said.

The department also can be more approachable.

While some people may be reluctant to speak to an officer, many pose questions or make comments on Twitter or Facebook, she said.

The new Pinterest account — pinterest.com/kcpolice — includes topics such as safety tips, how to become a police officer, police equipment and “KCPD fuzzy friends,” the department’s collection of animals.

It also has information about women in policing and how to handle difficult situations, such as involvement in an abusive relationship.

Boyd said the idea to use Pinterest came from the U.S. Army.

She said Kansas City police have been unable to find any other police department currently on Pinterest.

“We wanted to be on the cutting edge,” she said.