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
News

Explosions in new Boston Marathon bomb panic, 'twisted'…

A fresh Boston Marathon terror alert, which caused Bomb Squad officers to order an evacuation while two controlled explosions were carried out, was today being…

Local

D.A. Williams opens new unit to focus exclusively…

D.A. Seth Williams announced Tuesday that he has opened a new unit focused entirely on investigating wrongful conviction claims.

Local

BSL, El to run all night on summer…

Officials announced this week that it would institute a pilot program this summer that would keep the El operational from 5 a.m. Friday morning until midnight Monday morning starting in…

National

Reddit boosts news capabilities in social media turf…

By Jennifer SabaNEW YORK (Reuters) - Reddit, a website with a retro-'90s look and space-alien mascot that tracks everything from online news to celebrity Q&As,…

Television

'Orphan Black's' Jordan Gavaris talks Felix's Season 2…

Jordan Gavaris plays heroically helpful foster sibling Felix to main clone Sarah on "Orphan Black." We talked to him about what’s ahead for him in…

Going Out

Here's what to do in Philly this weekend

FILM 'Through a Lens Darkly'  Thursday, April 17, 6 p.m. Philadelphia Photo Arts Center 1400 N. American St. Free, RSVP required, 215-232-5678 www.philaphotoarts.org Join Philadelphia…

Arts

Peek behind the scenes at the Academy of…

Generations of visitors have marveled at the dioramas in the Academy of Natural Sciences, watching apprehensively at the puma perpetually poised to attack the unsuspecting…

Television

TV watch list, Tuesday, April 15: 'New Girl,'…

'New Girl' Nick and Jess are hiding their breakup from the other loft residents. And Winston passes the police academy exam! That guy needed some…

U.S. Soccer

Andrew Wenger has big shoes to fill on…

Lancaster County native Andrew Wenger will feel pressure to fill the shoes of departer forward Jack McInerney.

NBA

NBA Power Rankings: Are the Spurs frauds? Could…

NBA Power Rankings: Are the Spurs frauds? Could the Mavericks surprise?

NBA

Sixers, Michael Carter-Williams give fans a happy ending…

The 2013-14 season for the 76ers has nearly come to a close.

NHL

Flyers must make Rangers feel their presence

Perhaps it’s the proximity of the two biggest cities in the East, because whenever these two square off the intensity seems to rise.

Home

Steal home decorating tips from Nattystyle blogger Natalie…

Despite the towering ceilings and enviable exposed brick, it’s easy to see how Natalie Decleve’s apartment could be considered a challenge. Perched above the streets…

Home

How to plant a garden in the city

Small on space but big on gardening? You can still have that welcoming oasis of fresh air with an urban garden. Peter Smith, owner of…

Style

Victoria's Secret Fashion Show moving to England

It will still broadcast on CBS this fall.

Tech

Google Glass finally goes on sale for regular…

The Google Glass finally went on sale for regular people. It only costs $1,500.