CPD engages community with contest

The contest was inspired by the Houston Police Department.

On Wednesday, April 17, the Columbia Police Department held its first caption contest on its Facebook page. The winner of the contest received a CPD challenge coin.

A CPD challenge coin is the size of a silver dollar and has the mission statement of the department on one side. The coins are made for members of the police department. Challenge coins originated in the military and were a source of pride, Bernhard said.

The idea for "Winning Wednesday" was sparked by the Houston Police Department, which has something similar. The winners are determined by which comment gets the most likes. CPD sergeant Joe Bernhard said the contest is a way to involve the community.

"It engages the public and lets them see police officers and the police department as normal, everyday people," Bernard said.

The contest, at the very least, gets people to look at the Facebook page, Bernhard said. April's post had 22 comments and 24 likes. Meanwhile, the last caption post by the Houston Police Department had 101 comments and over 300 likes.

The contest also allows people to interact with the police department who would not normally do so, Bernhard said.

"(The contest) is something fun and not crime related," Bernhard said.

In the past, CPD has posted mug shots of wanted suspects and used the page to alert the community when shots are fired or a burglary occurs. In general, though, CPD tries to keep the Facebook page positive, Bernhard said.

Bernhard plans to have more contests in the future.

The contest will be held at least once a month and possibly more often if Bernhard has "suitable pictures" to use, he said. Suitable pictures means photos that are a little silly for the contest. The first photo was a dog checking out the police horse, Bo, at a holiday parade.

The winning caption was, "'Wait! What? What's wrong with my shoes? I just bought them!!'"

Bernhard said his favorite part of the contest was looking at all the comments. Bernhard said his favorite comment didn't win.

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