Tweet cops: Philly police ‘spearheading’ Twitter use by beat officers

twitter
A screenshot of the Philadelphia Police Department’s official Twitter account. (Credit: Twitter / Philadelphia Police Department).

When Philadelphia police Det. Paul Guercio took to Twitter to ask followers for surveillance footage of the June 5 building collapse in Center City, he received a reply within 45 minutes.

Several hours later, the same user posted a link to a YouTube clip showing bricks raining down near 22nd and Market streets.

According to the Philadelphia Police Department‘s Manager of Digital and Social Media, Sgt. Eric Gripp, officers are increasingly using Twitter to amplify their reach, multiplying man hours and encouraging those who might not normally talk to police to respond with clues.

“I feel like a lot of information and tips we wouldn’t otherwise receive, we get through Twitter,” Gripp said.

“A lot of people are concerned about anonymity. People are afraid to be seen as, unfortunately, what some people see as ‘snitching to police.’ This way, people can contact us. It’s all anonymous and they can choose to use their name or not.”

Gripp is now spearheading the department’s use of social media, an initiative he said began in earnest in January 2012.

Under the system, all officers can submit through their chain of command requests to receive verified @PPD Twitter accounts.

When enough inquiries are amassed, groups of four to five officers meet at police headquarters for a four-hour Twitter training course reviewing the basic dos and don’ts of social media.

“The last class was about three weeks ago,” Gripp said.

“I believe we have five officers who came through, one of which was a chief inspector who is now our highest ranking ‘tweeter.’ I still feel silly saying that.”

The Philadelphia Police Department currently has about 36 registered “tweeters” – and it’s not just higher-ups who are getting into the game.

“A lot of other police departments are using Twitter to the scale that we are, though as far as those where individual officers out on the street level are using it, there are none that I’m aware of right now,” Gripp said.

“Certain departments will have certain representatives, usually commanders, but as far as officers out on the street, we seem to be spearheading that.”

Along with inspectors and district heads, there are more than a dozen Philadelphia beat cops on Twitter representing units as far-reaching as victim services, community relations, highway patrol and crime scene investigation.

Gripp said having users of all ranks is crucial to Philly police’s social media mission.

“Back in day, there was a cop on every corner,” he said.

“We want to think there’s still always a foot or beat officer residents can talk with about what’s going on. Unfortunately, that’s not always the way it is today, but if you have an officer you want to have a friendly engagement with, you can always do it through Twitter.”


News
Entertainment
Sports
Lifestyle
News

OMG! Exercise can make skin (and butt) look…

A moderate exercise regime can turn back time and actually reverse the skin's aging process, according to new research. The study showed that a minimum…

News

Mets mascot Mr. Met target of Bill Clinton…

Mets mascot Mr. Met has told how he ended up in the crosshairs of a Secret Service sniper rifle. The man behind the Mr. Met…

International

Jews in eastern Ukraine ordered to register, Kerry…

Secretary of State John Kerry condemned reports that Jews in eastern Ukraine had been ordered to register with the authorities "or suffer the consequences."

National

Chelsea Clinton pregnant with first child

Chelsea Clinton is pregnant with her first child.

Television

'Scandal' recap: Season 3, Episode 18, 'The Price…

Sally is Jesus, Olivia caused global warming, and Mellie's still drunk. Let's recap the Scandal finale. A church full of Washington insiders is about to…

Movies

Review: 'Transcendence' is not stupid but sometimes lacks…

The cyberthriller "Transcendence" explores artificial intelligence, nanotechnology and other ethical quandaries, but has too much ambition, if anything.

Television

Dick Wolf to bring fictionalized world of 'Law…

A&E has ordered a pilot called "D.O.A." from "Law and Order" mastermind Dick Wolf that will focus on real detectives reexamining cold cases. A trio…

Television

Shane West talks WGN America's 'Salem'

The actor on history lessons, a new network and showing his butt.

MLB

MLB video highlights: Red Sox score two in…

Lester shines in Red Sox win over White Sox

Sports

2014 Boston Marathon preview: Elite American, International runners…

2014 Boston Marathon: Elite American, International runners to watch

NBA

2014 NBA Finals odds: Ranking which playoff teams…

2014 NBA Finals odds: Ranking which playoff teams have the best shot at a championship. The Thunder, Clippers, Heat and Rockets lead the way.

NFL

2014 Patriots, full NFL schedule release date announced

2014 Patriots, full NFL schedule release date announced

Style

Light-up nail art syncs with phone

This Japanese technology syncs light-up nail art with your phone.

Wellbeing

Why is dance cardio taking off in NYC?

Instructors at some of the city's hottest classes explain why.

Travel

Earth Day travel in the Florida Keys

See why this eco-friendly destination deserves your attention.

Tech

Sorry, Facebook — FarmVille goes mobile with 'Country…

Zynga has released a version of the hit "FarmVille" tailored for smartphones and tablets in the hope of reaping a bumper crop of players.