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YouTube Custom Handles For Police and Fire Departments

by | Dec 18, 2022 | Social Media

TOC Social Media

YouTube Custom Handles For Police and Fire Departments

by | Dec 18, 2022

If you’re involved in public safety, you know that having a YouTube account is essential for distributing your messages to your community. YouTube is great for expanding the reach of your recruitment videos, news releases, press conferences, and more.

A recent YouTube announcement opens the door to customizing your channel further. While certain channels could have custom domain names, it was often difficult to get one because of requirements YouTube had put in place a while back, which we’ll mention later.

Introducing YouTube Handles

Let’s discuss why YouTube is rolling out handles, why they matter, and how to choose one that will help you stay consistent in your social media use.

In YouTube’s announcement, they revealed the ability for channel owners to choose a custom handle for their channels. This move makes it easier for viewers to quickly and easily remember and tag your channel name.

What is a YouTube Handle

YouTube handles are custom names that channel owners can select to create an identity for their channels on YouTube. This handle makes it easier for viewers to remember the channel’s name and quickly find and tag your content. A well-crafted and descriptive handle will help viewers easily recognize who you are and differentiate your channel from others.

Why’s It Called “Handle?”

It goes back to the days of radio communications used by the public, like CB or ham radios. Your “handle” is how people would call for you on the radio. When Twitter came on the scene years later, they adopted this term to quickly refer to people’s usernames.

Why a YouTube Handle Matters for Public Safety

A custom YouTube handle allows your organization to keep a consistent appearance on all social media outlets. 

Handles are how the majority of people find social media accounts online. And with this change, your YouTube channel can have the same handle as Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter. This helps eliminate confusion when people in your community try to interact with your organization online.

It also makes printing materials easier, such as business cards, letterhead, flyers, and decals. Instead of having to list multiple handles, you can now list one handle.

A Custom Handle Makes Your Channel Easier to Find and Tag

Having a custom handle for your public safety channel allows people to easily and quickly tag it.

This makes it easier for members of your community to share and promote your content, enabling them to find specific content about the community you serve quickly.

Furthermore, having a consistent handle across your social media platforms will help create brand recognition and make it easier for people to know they’re on your official channel.

Which YouTube Channels are Eligible for a Custom Handle?

All Youtube channels will receive a custom handle.

YouTube will automatically create a handle based on your channel name or personalized URL if you take no action. If you had to choose a channel name that did not match your other social accounts, you would keep it when they automatically create your channels’ handle.

But don’t worry; you can always change your YouTube Handle if necessary.

You don’t need to tell people every platform you are on, or even the full address for your department’s website, anymore. Thanks to handles, you can literally type into a search bar your handle, and every platform and your website will appear in the search results. If you type your handle in the address bar, it will pull up your website (if the website address is the same as your social media handles.

Now, your department vehicles can simply have a decal of your handle, and nothing else. People will know what to do from there!

How to Choose a YouTube Handle

According to YouTube, you’ll be notified via Email and within the YouTube Studio when it’s time to choose a handle. Once notified, you can visit to choose a handle. This is where you’ll hopefully be able to secure the same handle you use on your other social media platforms.

Remember that the notification email will go to the account used to create your YouTube Channel. Since channels are associated with a Gmail email address, you’ll need to log in to the Gmail account to read your emails unless you have them forwarded. In other words, don’t rely on an email coming to your government email address.

How Custom Handles Will Affect YouTube URLs

YouTube Channel URLs will now use handles to direct people to specific channels.

For example, the Los Angeles Police Department’s custom handle is @LAPDHQ.

So their YouTube Channel URL is

Previously, personalized URLs were how you could create a custom web address for your channel. And while those URLs will still work, they will be redirected traffic to the new handle-based URLs.

This change is significant for channels that previously did not meet the minimum 100-subscriber requirement to create a personalized URL.

So when you create a YouTube handle, you’ll also receive a custom URL.


So while you’re getting your YouTube handle claimed for your department, you might also want to go out and snag up any other platforms you may possibly use in the future with the same handle. That way, when everyone flees a platform for something new or different, you’ll be ahead of the game.

About the Author

  • Mike Bires

    Mike Bires is a retired law enforcement officer from Southern California. He was one of the early adopters of social media for use in law enforcement. He has spoken at the IACP and in Washington DC on law enforcement social media. Today, Mike is the Director of Operations for TOC Public Relations and oversees their website development operations.