Cambridge police begin reporting crimes in real time on Twitter

cambridge police twitter boston
The Cambridge Police Department now tweets certain crimes in real time.
Credit: Michael Naughton/METRO

It’s sort of like watching “COPS” in 140 characters or less.

The Cambridge Police Department is now tweeting certain crimes in real time, the department announced Tuesday.

The initiative is meant to promote transparency and information to the public about what’s going on in their community, said police Commissioner Robert Haas.

“This is something we’ve had in the works for a while,” Haas said in a statement.  “We believe strongly in the ability of social media to communicate with the public in a timely manner, and tweeting information about serious incidents will better inform our residents about what types of incidents police are responding to in their community.”

About the same time the department sent out a news release announcing the launch of the new initiative, a reported crime popped up on its Twitter feed.

“02/19/13 08:57 REPORT OF POSSIBLE ASSAULT IN PROGRESS ON BLAKE ST IN #CAMBMA,” @cambridgepolice tweeted.

Only certain crimes will be posted on the Twitter feed. Police officials decided on a list of 18 crimes to automatically tweet out for various reasons.

“We could be tweeting constantly, but we don’t want to be inundating people with every incident we are responding to,” said Dan Riviello, a police department spokesman.

While the initiative is new in this region, the Seattle Police Department launched a similar program last year.

The Cambridge police twitter feed was active mainly during business hours, but now it will be updated as crimes are reported.

There is a built-in delay between when the crimes are reported to dispatchers and when they’re posted on Twitter to allow for police officers to respond to scenes first. Riviello would only say that the delay is minutes, and less than 30 minutes, but a review of the posting times and times reported showed that the delay is about seven or eight minutes.

Riviello said the public being informed of what’s going on in their city is the ultimate goal of the initiative. He said people being informed of a description of a person who may have robbed a bank and is feeling toward the T might help police in their arrest efforts.

“We don’t want people to take the law into their own hands, but the more people that know what’s going on, the better they can be at helping us catch the bad guys.”

Last year the department made available an app for citizens to report certain crimes or issues on their mobile phones. Arrest and calls logs are also posted daily on the department’s website.

The availability of information is meant to show citizens that they should reach out to the department.

“The idea is always to share as much information as we can with our community. The more we let people know about crime and people are aware about what’s going on, then in turn they’ll communicate with us,” said Riviello.

Reported crimes
Calls posted on the department’s Twitter page will always start with “report of” because sometimes calls do not turn out to be what they are reported as:
* “02/19/13 14:28 REPORT OF POSSIBLE FIGHT ON CAMBRIDGE ST IN #CAMBMA”
* “02/18/13 21:38 REPORT OF POSSIBLE ASSAULT IN PROGRESS ON CONCORD TPKE IN #CAMBMA”
* “02/16/13 02:12 REPORT OF POSSIBLE PERSON WITH GUN ON HAMPSHIRE ST IN #CAMBMA”

What’s being tweeted
Only certain crimes will be posted in real time:
*A&B DW in Progress Assault
*Armed Robbery
*Attempted Armed Robbery
*Attempted Robbery
*Assault in Progress
*Bank Robbery in Progress
*Carjacking in Progress Larceny of MV
*Fight
*Found Child
*Bomb Threats
*Kidnapping
*Missing Person/Child
*Larceny in Progress
*Person with Gun
*Robbery in Progress
*Street Blocked
*Tree Down
*Unarmed Robbery

Follow Michael Naughton on Twitter @metrobosmike.



News
Entertainment
Sports
Lifestyle
Local

MTA announces service changes for Sunday

The MTA has announced service changes ahead of Sunday's People's Climate March, which will be held from 11:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Sunday. Riders using…

Local

NYPD launches Twitter account for L train

The NYPD recently launched a Twitter handle dedicated to the L train and its riders. According to @NYPDLtrain, officers went underground Thursday morning to hand…

Local

Bushwick community space offers activists a place to…

A new Bushwick community space offers community activists to meet, create, learn and throw back a few cold ones. MayDay, located 214 Starr Street in Bushwick,…

Local

Activists gearing up for Sunday's "historic" People's Climate…

If all goes according to plan, more than 100,000 people will gather near Central Park West on Sunday morning and march through midtown to raise…

Movies

Kevin Smith makes peace with the Internet

I was thinking about Ain't It Cool News and Harry Knowles last night, wondering if anyone from Ain't It Cool had reviewed my new movie…

Movies

Art imitates life in 'Swim Little Fish Swim'

There's a certain comfort to be taken in finding that young artists are still moving to New York and trying to make it — and…

Movies

Review: Terry Gilliam's 'The Zero Theorem' is better…

Terry Gilliam's latest, "The Zero Theorem," concerns a reclusive malcontent (Christoph Waltz) struggling with the search for the meaning of life.

Music

Esperanza Spalding and a being called Emily get…

Esperanza Spalding is about to spiral off in a brand new direction that may or may include an alter ego named Emily.

NFL

Oday Aboushi ready for increased role, and to…

Oday Aboushi might feel comfortable enough to engage in some trash talk the next time he is on the field.

NFL

Giants vs. Texans: 3 things to watch

The Giants host the surprising Texans (2-0) in what may already be a must-win game for Big Blue.

NFL

Eric Decker misses practice again, could miss Monday

Jets wide receiver Eric Decker missed practice Thursday as he continues to rehab a hamstring injury suffered last Sunday.

MLB

Derek Jeter still focused on baseball as final…

Derek Jeter has effectively hid his emotions for 20 years in the Bronx.

Parenting

A sneaky way to serve kids fruits and…

"My First Juices and Smoothies" gives smoothie recipes for kids.

Style

3 things we love from Day 1 of…

The highlights from Day 1 of Milan Fashion Week.

Sex

Why don't more couples use condoms?

  Call it the “condom moment.” That’s the name the authors of a new study have given to the pivotal conversation every couple should be…

Sex

Need an idea for a first date? Here's…

Picture your idea of a nice first date. Is it dinner and a movie? A visit to an interesting museum exhibit? Instead, an expert on…