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The Police on Twitter

19 March 2009 One Comment

According to article on CNN  the  police have found a new way to help keep the public informed.  They post the event on Twitter.  For example in Lakeland, Florida a report of a possible explosive device which was found on top of the roof of a city parking garage came in to the local police department.   The article states that, “public safety officials there sprang into action. They sent out a squad to investigate and they posted a notice on Twitter…” (France, 2009) The use of social networking devises to quickly get information out to the public is being used more and more frequently by law enforcement agencies and emergency services.  Lakeland Police Assistant Chief Bill LePere stated that, “We think the police department has an obligation to get information out to the community through whatever means or mechanisms we have at our disposal.  Traditional media releases, expecting the local print media to pick it up and run it in the newspaper tomorrow, is 24 hours too late.” (France, 2009)  These sites are being used to inform the public of road closings, press releases, Amber alerts, suspect descriptions, etc.  They work similar to interrupting a television show for an emergency bulletin except that the information is distributed even more quickly and does not have to be of such a drastic nature. 

Bruce Frazier, public relations specialist for the Dalton Police Department in Dalton, Georgia, said “the way in which Lakeland police utilized Twitter is exactly what he envisioned when his department started using the site a few weeks ago. His department has a blog and Frazier said he learned the value of being able to keep the public updated quickly in October after a bombing at an area law firm.”[The bombing occurred] across the street from an elementary school.” (France, 2009) Frazier said, “I was on the scene there pounding away on my PDA trying to send out press releases letting people know what was going on with the evacuation, what they needed to do to pick up their kids. If we had been using something like Twitter, it would have been [faster to get the information out] from my PDA.” (France, 2009)

            The article goes on to provide many other examples of how the police have been able to use soical networking sites to relay information such as in Coralville, Iowa a Police Department Community Relations Officer Meleah Droll used twitter to tell those in the area about a bank robbery.  While at this time most “police and fire departments number their followers in the dozens or hundreds, but many said the word can spread quickly when followers “re-tweet” to their friends or post the information from Twitter on their Facebook accounts.”  (France, 2009)

I think that this is very true.  The concept of using Twitter and Facebook as a tool to distribute potentially very serious information is still very new.  While it seems somewhat  foreign, I do not think that it should.  Instead, it is the logical next step. In case of an emergency information should be spread as fast as possible.  As social networking sites continue to grow it seems logical to use them as a means to spread all information including types that are of a more serious nature.  I think that this trend will continue to grow as long as these sites are popular. 

 

France, L. R. (2009, March 13). Police departments keeping public informed on Twitter. Retrieved March 13, 2009, from CNN: http://www.cnn.com/2009/TECH/03/13/police.social.networking/index.html

One Comment »

  • Anonymous said:

    On For Immediate Release's last live call-in show, they spoke with someone who works in the Nevada court system and is using Twitter quite effectively, I understand: http://www.forimmediaterelease.biz

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