Over the past few months, an unlikely Twitter celebrity has emerged in India: the Bengaluru City Police.
For most people, the police forces are commonly associated with boring bureaucracy. But cops in this southern Indian city have given themselves an image makeover by stepping up their social media game, bringing witty pop culture references, jokes, and memes into warnings about drug busts and bank fraud.
On May 02, the Bengaluru City Police tweeted a gentle reminder about road safety using a Game of Thrones reference, gathering hundreds of “favourites” and retweets from fans across India. This was in part due to to the meme’s nod at a popular fan theory regarding the origins of Jon Snow (see the symbol on the helmet).
The account referred to Game of Thrones once again in a warning about bank fraud:
This followed a tongue-in-cheek notification of a recent drug bust:
And then a reference to Harry Potter:
The quirky sense of humour comes from a number of young Indians hired specially for the job. Described by the Times of India newspaper as “youngsters in jeans and T-shirts,” the group has taken over the responsibility of handling the police department’s social media accounts, leaving uniformed policemen and women to focus on their core responsibilities and helping the forces connect with India’s tech-savvy (and pop culture-obsessed) youth population.
“Yes, our tweets were rather boring earlier,” police commissioner Praveen Sood told the newspaper, adding that the department now gets at least 1,000 new followers every day, thanks to its updated approach. The account now has around 635,000 followers.
However, the Bengaluru City Police isn’t alone. Since its debut on Twitter in December 2015, the Mumbai police department, too, has been upgrading its social media game, sending out witty one-liners and puns, besides references to popular television shows and movies, that have gone viral on WhatsApp and Facebook as well.
These accounts have transformed the way young Indians view and interact with the country’s police departments. And they’re not stopping here: Bengaluru City Police joined Instagram a few weeks ago, bringing its sense of humour to a new platform.