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Plainfield police deploy humor to get serious message out

Brock A. Stein | 11/15/2017, 11:30 a.m.
If you’ve been locking your car doors at night because you know that it’s the number one way to prevent ...
Jedi master Yoda teaches the ways of the force and about the importance of locking car doors to prevent break ins. Plainfield Police Department Facebook page

If you’ve been locking your car doors at night because you know that it’s the number one way to prevent theft from your vehicle it may be one of the few positive lessons to come from your Facebook feed in recent months.

That’s because shuffled in among your social media’s never-ending crawl of cat videos, grand kid photos and not-so-subtle humble brags, the Plainfield Police Department has been sprinkling in some serious messages with humorous memes.

Detective Sergeant Kevin McQuaid of the Plainfield Police Department said, “it’s a different approach to try to and get our message out there.”

“Posting the same stuff over and over again about locking doors, sometimes people just glance over that,” he said.

“So we’re trying a little more humorous approach.”

That approach includes riffs on popular culture and tweaks of catchphrases to sell public safety messages.

Topics range from child safety seats where a grandma intones “back in my day we put the baby on the floor and they were fine” to a photo of Bob Barker of the Price is Right encouraging residents to come on down to “chip your pets.” At the start of water fowl hunting season the department posted a photo of Jon Snow of Game of Thrones warning of the coming winter…and hunting season.

To sell its sign up for reverse 911 for people without landlines, the department posted a logo similar to the GI Joe cartoon stating that “knowing is half the battle.”

And encouraging people to lock their car doors to prevent theft, a frequent topic, the department has incorporated photos from the movie office space with the monotonous drone of the boss encouraging residents to “go ahead and lock your door, mmmmkay?” There’s also a Yoda-themed meme that tells residents to “lock doors you must.” A young Alex Baldwin, from the movie Glengarry Glen Ross, tweaks his high volume selling formula of ABC—always be closing—to ABL—always be locking.

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Plainfield Police Department Facebook page

Plainfield Police have begun to use humorous memes to get their message out to residents.

A recent post with a literary take features Edgar Allan Poe’s poem “The Raven” re-written that includes the line “…quoth the raven, lock your door.”

McQuaid said that the Plainfield PD saw the approach being used in other police departments before and decided to try it out. The new messaging seems to be working though it’s hard to quantify.

“I don’t know if we’ve gotten any reports of cars being broken in to recently, so hopefully it’s working,” said McQuaid.

At the end of the day, getting the message out that something as simple as locking your car doors is the #1 theft deterrent is one that will benefit residents and the police—McQuaid oversees the investigations department that looks in to break ins.

He said that 96% of cars burglarized last year in the village were unlocked and the bulk of those happen during the warmer months.

“As long as we’re getting that message out there that’s what’s important,” he said.