In contrast to the actual building itself, which is a boring, unremarkable box in the heart of Judiciary square, the website of the Metropolitan Police Department is a vibrant, expansive, and useful tool to help the people of the District of Columbia. The website — which is an offshoot of the greater dc.gov website, has countless links that send the user deeper into the Metropolitan Police Department website. These links all lead to useful information regarding what police precinct you live in, how to access the Metropolitan Police Department’s many services (permits, registration, filing of police reports, etc.), safety information, and so much more.
Something that is worth mentioning is that mpdc.dc.gov (the police website) is one small part of the puzzle that is the District’s government site. While dc.gov has a very similar structure, the information on it is far more expansive than the Police Deparmtnent’s site. It has links to job opportunities, school profiles, and visitors information just to name a few. This information is valuable to both residents and tourists alike. Parents can find information on the best schools for their children under the “School Profiles” link on the “Education” tab. Residents or people planning to move to the city can explore job opportunities in the government sector under the “Jobs” tab, or get instructions on how to start a business in DC under the “Business” tab. Additionally, tourists can find the site useful as well. There are links to tours, information on monuments, things to do in the city, and many more options for tourists under the “Visitors” tab.
The MPDC website has been an invaluable tool to me throughout the duration of this project. It is structurally identical to the dc.gov site, but the links and tabs are a little more focused on information that would concern the police department. The uniformity of the site reflects order, which is a message that police have historically tried to send. Most of the information is organized into eight neat and distinct tabs: “Home,” “Services,” “Your Police District,” “In the Community,” “Safety and Prevention,” “Statistics & Data,” “Get Involved!,” and “About MPDC.” The acronym “MPDC” is used regularly throughout the site, probably because typing out “Metropolitan Police Department of the District of Columbia” gets old after a while. The “Get Involved!” tab interested be because of the exclamation point on the end. Some of the links under the tab include career opportunities, volunteer opportunities, and ways to contact the police through text and tip lines.
The Department definitely wants to build relations to the DC community. This can benefit the Department in a number of ways: if the people of the District trust the police enough to give them tips on crime in the area, that makes their job infinitely easier. Additionally, including links to jobs in the Department increases the MPDC workforce, theoretically making them more effective in the city. Another benefit to having the site cover so much ground is to reduce questions asked by residents. If the information is easily accessible on the site, then there is no reason to waste time with an email or phone call. Another way I can see the Department trying to connect with the community is through social media. They have links to MPDC’s Twitter and Facebook accounts. This is a way residents can see what is happening in the city with the Police Department without having to subscribe to the email list (which is also an option.
While the outward appearance of the Metropolitan Police Department seems dilapidated and neglectful, the website reflects a different side of the story. The website provides a feeling of safety; like the police are making an effort to make everyone feel safe, and no where to find what help they need. Getting to know the District Commander and any information regarding the safety of your family might be enough to feel safe and welcome in the city. The Department would seem far more impressive if their outward appearance reflected their site.