More than a dozen Massachusetts police departments were taking part in a worldwide tweet-a-thon Friday to show how social media can help increase public safety.
More than 230 agencies from the U.S., Canada, Europe, Australia and New Zealand got involved, according to Lauri Stevens, whose company LAwS Communications organized the event. Among them were police in Cambridge, Chelsea, Braintree, Watertown and elsewhere.
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"We hope it sends the message to non-law enforcement that their police officers are up to speed with social media, and that they should use the channel to talk with police officers and to be stewards of public safety," Stevens said.
The Cambridge Police Department is one of only two departments in the U.S to tweet about incidents in real time. Earlier this week, the CPD announced that it will expand that effort to include more detailed information.
"We believe strongly in the ability of social media to communicate with the public in a timely manner," Cambridge Police Commissioner Robert C. Haas said in a statement. "Tweeting information helps to inform our residents and followers about what is happening in Cambridge, and we are proud to take part in this tweet-a-thon to highlight the value that social media provides not only to the public, but to law enforcement as well."
Several departments referred to the tweet-a-thon as a "virtual ride-along," allowing residents to observe law enforcement activities in their communities and around the world first-hand. Messages ranged from current incidents to close-up views of facilities and equipment that most civilians never see.
The FBI Press Office in Washington, D.C., sent a picture from Friday morning's briefing with Director Robert Mueller. The Vermont State Police reminded followers to use extra caution due to snowy road conditions. Others used the opportunity to communicate with their counterparts in other cities and countries.
Agencies planned to use the hashtag #poltwt from 8 a.m. Friday to 8 a.m. Saturday. Stevens, who tweets as @ConnectedCops, compiled a list of participants and a live Google Map showing where they're located. Photos were posted in real time on Topsy.com.
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