The Bourne Police Department shows its lighter side while doling out the town’s key news.

BOURNE, Mass. — There are plenty of make-believe alternatives to cross the Cape Cod Canal when bridge traffic clogs the roadways. But the only way to know about them is to check out the Bourne Police Department’s Facebook page.

“This summer has seen the introduction of the Canal Zip Line, 2 Canal Catapults, the Canal Cannon and the Canal Ferry, while capacity improvements have been made to the existing Canal Tunnel and Submarine service,” was a Sept. 4 post on the Bourne page. This post drew 1,474 likes.

It’s this kind of goofy, imaginative content that has made the BPD Facebook page wildly popular among residents, visitors, and catapult-users alike, and gained the page 28,500 followers since its founding in February 2013 – more followers than there are people living year-round in Bourne.

Lighthearted posts about “minion sightings,” bridge travel, and the Bourne Police Bed and Breakfast (the local lockup) serve as a hook to draw community members to the site to make sure they have vital public information.

“(Social media) is the best way to get your message out to the public unfiltered,” said Lt. Brandon Esip, who helps run the department’s social media efforts, though he stressed that many people have a part in putting out their content. “We use it primarily to get information out about our activity, or public safety-related events.”

Every Monday morning, the department writes a weekly report from its “short-term occupancy inn,” other times referred to as “the B&B by the Sea,” describing different activities that “guests” have taken part in to earn their stay. An excerpt from last week’s entry reads: “Several guests were found operating their horseless carriages after having their state issued operators permits suspended. We had one guest even attempt to operate said carriage after sampling some forbidden magical herbs.”

‘A MULTIFACETED TOOL’

While Bourne has the most popular page on the Cape, it is not by any means the only department to use social media, nor was it the first.

The Yarmouth Police Department was the first Cape police force to create a Facebook page, in August 2010.

Yarmouth Police Chief Frank Frederickson echoed Esip, saying that people are “hungry for information” about what’s happening in their community.

“When it comes to crime and public safety, people really want to know, and it’s a very effective tool to use,” he said. “It is a multifaceted tool that can be used for a lot of different things. We’ve been able to grow it with different uses as we’ve learned the ups and downs of social media.”

In addition to reporting on crime, Frederickson said, Yarmouth police use their Facebook and Twitter accounts to put out things like storm notifications and community event promotions.

He said that the use of social media represents an evolution of community policing efforts. “We now call it social policing, using different social media to be part of the policing philosophy,” he said.