News Column

Police to Host Virtual Ride-along Through Twitter

March 22, 2013

Jason Green

The Palo Alto Police Department is gearing up to participate in a virtual ride-along via Twitter that will involve more than 150 law enforcement agencies in eight countries on Friday.

The so-called "global tweet-at-thon" is the brainchild of LAwS Communications, an interactive media consultant to law enforcement. Starting at 8 a.m., participating agencies will use the hashtag #poltwt to bring attention to the use of social media by law enforcement. The event is scheduled to run for 24 hours.

"We hope it sends a message to the public that their police officers are up to speed with social media, and that they can use these channels to talk with police officers and to be stewards of public safety," Lauri Stevens, founder of LAwS Communications, said in a statement.

Chief Dennis Burns and a public information officer are scheduled to join the event at about 3 p.m.

Friday's ride-along will be the third time the Palo Alto Police Department has used Twitter to provide a glimpse into its day-to-day operations.

Police expect to send between 100 and 250 tweets during the event.

"It makes sense for us to participate in this worldwide Twitter event. Not only is Palo Alto the 'birthplace of Silicon Valley,' but our city is also recognized worldwide as a leader in cutting-edge technological development and civic engagement," Burns said in a statement.

"We're excited to share the realities of policing in Palo Alto with people around

the globe."

City Manager James Keene noted that the event is in line with the city council's priority of using technology to bring people closer together.

"Social media events like these help us connect with our community in an engaging and interactive way that allows open access to the real-life, day-to-day operations of a city," Keene said.

The police department launched all of its social media platforms in March 2012. Since then, its Twitter account has gained more than 2,900 followers and its Facebook page has received more than 1,700 "likes." Links to all of its platforms can be found at www.cityofpaloalto.org/PAPDconnect.

For a list of law enforcement agencies that have signed up to participate in the global tweet-a-thon, visit https://twitter.com/ConnectedCOPS/police-tweet-a-thon-2013/members.



Source: (c) 2013 the Palo Alto Daily News (Menlo Park, Calif.) Distributed by MCT Information Services