1. The Bangor Police Department’s social media presence began moving along swimmingly once they started using a bit of an unconventional gimmick in all of their police photos: A stuffed duck.
2. The Facebook page for the 80-person department gained more than 20,000 Facebook fans after it started featuring photos of the duck, the Associated Press reports.
3. Dubbed “Duck of Justice,” or DOJ for short, the department’s feathered friend makes appearances in cop cars, with K-9 cops, and on patrol around the city.
“I happen to believe that police officers are a pretty humorous bunch,” the man behind the duck, Sgt. Tim Cotton, told the AP. “I want to read something that at least has some humorous undertones — I wouldn’t connect to a page that I didn’t want to read.”
5. The Duck of Justice also allows the department to commit a little bit of foul play with the often pithy things they write on their Facebook page.
“Still waiting for Rookie Police Officer John Hermanson………..word is he was a little slow at the Maine Criminal Justice Academy as well.”
6. The taxidermied bird, which Cotton rescued from a trash compactor, helps them get citizens’ attention for important messages among the noise of social media, he said.
“The DOJ took off for the races this afternoon and he was whistling “More Than A Feeling” and I can’t find my wallet…..he must be feeling lucky!”
7. Many police departments use humor or showing a more sensitive side to their officers to reach the public, like with one Massachusetts officer’s essay about putting down his K-9 partner that went viral earlier this year.
Sometimes, though, the attempt at social media attention results in unforeseen negative consequences. In April, the New York Police Department asked Twitter users to post personal photos with its officers using #myNYPD. The public responded with mostly unfavorable images of NYPD officers.
“You need to know that the Duck of Justice has been feeling the stress of being better known than many of our area celebrities,” Cotton wrote. “…He knows his place and realizes that he he needs to keep his beak to the grindstone. His media relations team traveled with him and duck-u-mented his travels. Scary, very scary! We have more coming soon but as always, we will be here!”
9. As for his negative critics, Cotton says it’s just all part of the pecking order.
“Policemen find their job funny no matter what people think of police,” he said. “There’s horrible things in police work and there’s wonderful things.”