LAWRENCE, Kan. -- It's been quite a year for the Lawrence Police Department's Twitter account.
After winning an award and thousands of followers later, the officer behind the account says they're still going strong -- and hoping for more in 2018.
“We first started the account, we did it to put out tweets about drunk driving and driving sober on New Year’s Eve and things like that,” said Officer Drew Fennelly with the Public Affairs Unit of the Lawrence Police Department.
The department started its Twitter account two years ago.
“It's weird. The tweets I think are really funny and I think will be really popular always completely flop, and the tweets I kind of put out mindlessly and don't even think about are always the most popular,” Fennelly said.
Fennelly is the man behind the account that now has more than 74,000 followers.
“The first tweet that really went viral, I guess you could say, was after KU lost to Villanova in the Elite 8 two years ago, and it actually got a couple thousand likes, which at the time was huge for us," Fennelly said. "We only had 3,000 followers at the time."
That's when they started getting followers beyond Lawrence.
“And found that by using humor, we could be successful in reaching a far wider audience,” Fennelly said.
That first tweet had more than 2,000 likes and 2,000 retweets, but that was just the beginning.
“The second most popular tweet that we've had was the tweet with the guy vaping in front of the utility vehicle,” said Fennelly, referring to his response to the guy who thought it was a police car.
That tweet got more than 500,000 likes.
“Last fall we had people dressing up as clowns and running around up by campus," he said. "It was happening all over the place, so that was genuine frustration. We're literally not doing the clown thing again."
The department even won an award at the Government Social Media Conference earlier this year for "Best Use of Humor in a Government Social Media Account."
“Using humor can be a good way to connect with people and recognize that police officers are humans, too,” Fennelly said. “I think other departments are recognizing that, and it's just an emerging trend in police community relations.”
Fennelly said he and another officer were invited to speak in April 2018 in Denver for the next Government Social Media Conference.