Twitter, a guaranteed object of good-natured ridicule on a future episode of VH1's I Love the '00s, isn't just for egocentric celebrities anymore. The Boulder Police Department has recently started tweeting, hipping hipsters to current events and investigations on its very own Twitter page.
Public-information officer Sarah Huntley is the BPD's Twitter ambassador, and while her bio notes that "I monitor this service often," it also asks subscribers to "please use 911, not Twitter, to report a crime or emergency." Not that anyone has tried to tweet her about a robbery or home invasion to date. She says she added this request after seeing something similar on the Boston Police Department's Twitter page, which she checked out after Boulder officials began looking at ways to update the community's approach to info dissemination.
"Weve been having discussions for some time -- city communications folks in a variety of departments -- on ways we can use some of the new resources that are available to us to help get information to people," Huntley allows. "And it seemed like the police department was one area that might be able to benefit from this new technology, particularly when it comes to getting information out quickly to people who might be mobile."
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As part of this conversation, Huntley goes on, "we've also been mindful of the fact that governments are struggling with the idea of social media in some ways -- and we've been trying to figure out the opportunities even as we've been concerned with some of the challenges." Regarding the latter, Huntley points out that popular web stops "may be linked to advertising, or content that's offensive to some people. And we're asking, does contact with social media imply endorsement?"
These and other questions will be addressed in a new citywide policy slated for completion within the next two weeks or so. In the meantime, Huntley is tinkering with Twitter on something of an experimental basis, "to get an idea of what the pros and cons are while a larger committee of people look at balancing all the city's communication interests."
Until then, here's a look at many of the BPD's tweets to date:
April 6, 2009 - Police: Double shooting appears to be a homicide-suicide http://tinyurl.com/djmnvt
about 14 hours ago from twitterfeed Flood siren test for tonight at 7 p.m. has been cancelled. More details at http://www.bouldercounty.or...
about 15 hours ago from web Blotter - April 3, 2009, to April 5, 2009 http://tinyurl.com/dx4jzr
about 21 hours ago from twitterfeed Just a reminder: Boulder flood sirens will go off today at 10 a.m. and 7 p.m. This is only a TEST.
about 21 hours ago from web Blotter - April 2, 2009 http://tinyurl.com/cb56q5 9:34 AM Apr 3rd from twitterfeed April 2, 2009 - Police release weapons details in double shooting http://tinyurl.com/cq84mp
5:01 PM Apr 2nd from twitterfeed April 2, 2009 - Police release photo, sketch of pharmacy robber http://tinyurl.com/dj8j7v
1:35 PM Apr 2nd from twitterfeed April 2, 2009 - Former husband and wife identified in domestic-related deaths http://tinyurl.com/ddguh8
1:35 PM Apr 2nd from twitterfeed April 1, 2009 - Police investigating two deaths in north Boulder home http://twurl.nl/g22p64
6:07 PM Apr 1st from twitterfeed No other updates are anticipated tonight, but if that changes, I will post them here and put out a press release.
5:54 PM Apr 1st from web Most up to date release has been posted. April 1, 2009 - Police investigating two deaths in north Boulder home. http://tinyurl.com/ckhe8q
5:53 PM Apr 1st from web @7NewsJane You can sign activate a Blackberry to send and receive tweets, if you want. Go to settings and devices.
5:36 PM Apr 1st from web in reply to Jane_SlaterI've left the crime scene. Will be sending out a news release soon. I will post link here, too.
5:04 PM Apr 1st from web No IDs yet on the adults found inside the home.
3:49 PM Apr 1st from web Detectives are on scene. Children who live in the home are accounted for and safe. They were NOT home at the time of incident.
3:48 PM Apr 1st from web Adult male and adult female doa. Incident appears confined to this home. 911 rec'd at 3:05.
2:37 PM Apr 1st from txt Heading to a crime scene with two dead in the 3100 block of 23rd Street in Boulder. More details to follow via Twitter.
1:42 PM Apr 1st from web Blotter - March 31, 2009 http://tinyurl.com/c4j69f
9:45 AM Apr 1st from twitterfeed I would love to hear ideas about the kind of tweets/services you would like to see from the Boulder Police Department.
2:21 PM Mar 31st from web Participating in a seminar about how government and law enforcement agencies are using social media.
2:20 PM Mar 31st from web more