The Metropolitan police department of Washington D.C. website presents a humble but concise and informative design. It is structured in the following way: a header, the main body, and a footer. The header consists of a button and a series of drop-down lists. The button links to an external website that provides information about the established COVID centers, their location, and respective contacts. In turn, drop-down lists serve as navigation on the current website, depicting its segments and providing shortcuts. The header elements are fixed, meaning they will stay there even when the user decides to browse the website content. In total, there are eight lists positioned in the following order: Home, Services, Your Police District, In the Community, Safety & Prevention, Statistics & Data, Get Involved, and About MPDC.
The main page’s body has four elements: sliding commercials, featured services, important news, and a list of various news articles and links to other external social services. Sliding commercial provides information about the website’s newest updates and features as well as some attractions (benefits, community life) toward joining the police force. Featured services showcase the website’s tools available for users, such as filing reports online, firearms registration, or means to contact the department. Finally, important news, a news list, and a set of links enclose the rest of the available content – in contrast to previous elements, it presents information in a less visual and more textual format. However, it allows for the inclusion of more features, thus, serving as a detailed summary of the main page. At the bottom of the pages, the footer provides additional complimentary information, such as the department’s physical address and links to social media.
The website’s structure already has hints that determine whether the department prioritizes crime control or order maintenance. For instance, the COVID button indicates an awareness of the disease’s danger. The department acknowledges that some people decide not to spend time searching for the center’s location on Google and, thus, might look for help on the police website. Apart from that, the order in which the drop-down lists are presented provides clues to their potential importance. For comparison, the second list contains service features allowing users to set s appointments or file reports. Meanwhile, the statistics regarding crimes, such as crime rate, crime map, or homicide closure rates, are situated in the sixth list. In this context, the content of the main page’s body contains the last needed clues for the department’s intent.
If crime control was an issue, there would be more content reflecting it. However, the most relevant content users see first as soon as they land on the page does not mention the word “crime” at all (MPDC, commercial slider). Based on the gathered evidence, it becomes plain that the primary intent of the Washington D.C. police department is to maintain order. The information regarding crime control is available on the website; nevertheless, it does not draw immediate attention, which confirms its secondary role.
Metropolitan Police Department. MPDC, 2022.