Seattle Police Crime Blotter is Now 51 Hyper-Local Twitter Feeds

Seattle Police Crime Blotter Article: http://mashable.com/2012/10/03/seattle-police-blotter-twitter/

Similar to the article about the Pittsburgh police receiving training on social media, this article explains that the Seattle Police department is doing their part on the social media scene. The Seattle PD is expanding the use of their Twitter handle, @Seattlepd in order to keep local residents updates in all things happening around the city. The digital program is called “Tweets-by-beat” and it covers 51 local feeds from the officers ‘beats’ around the city. The PD’s goal is to create awareness of personal safety in order to hopefully prevent crimes. Sergeant Whitcomb was quoted in the article in regards to how easy they want this social interaction to be for residents so that they feel more obliged to follow the Twitter feeds and updates. He also touched on when is the right time to post criminal acts in accordance with privacy issues.

I think this the Seattle PD is making the right move in connecting itself with its local residents. I think having an easily accessible Twitter feed will allow residents to access the information the need to make decisions. I also think it will help the PD in solving cases because they can reach out to a lot more people through social media than if they don’t use it at all….thus giving them a bigger pool of people who may know something that could help a case. Although similar to the Pittsburgh Police article in training police departments on social media tactics, Seattle is taking the ‘help out the residents’ route rather than solely teaching its officers about social media. Seattle has the people in mind as the priority of in getting information out and I think this could really help residents make informed decisions.

Will residents think that too much time will be spent tweeting updates rather than following the crimes by the officers? Also, do we think the public has the right to know everything that is going on in the city…who is overseeing what is posted so that Seattle as a city doesn’t inform residents incorrectly or make them worry?

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9 thoughts on “Seattle Police Crime Blotter is Now 51 Hyper-Local Twitter Feeds

  1. Seattle PD is definitely taking a step in the right direction to inform their community of what’s going on.They are being proactive in their approach to alert citizens on what exactly is happening. @SeattlePD has over 22,000 followers. This may mean reaching a new audience that you may never have communicated with if twitter was not set up. The news here is instant. In most communities, government entities have to rely on sending news updates to local newspapers or tv stations. It is then up to the media outlets to determine if the material is worth publishing. With Tweets, this problem is avoided. News and info is streamed directly to the residents.

  2. This new approach shouldn’t prove to be a time waster, especially if the time to tweet could (mostly) take the place of typical radio calls to the dispatcher. (I wonder if they’ve already thought to Twitter-enable their dispatchers?)

    Having just checked out the ‘Tweets by Beat’ webpage, I would suggest that the SPD review the current usability, as that will be key. The quote from the article stated that “Anyone can read these feeds — even people who aren’t on Twitter”. However, when first clicking the link, I was asked to sign in to my Twitter account.

  3. This is a fantastic move by the Seattle Police Department. Any opportunity to raise public awareness of safety and crime prevention is a net positive for the community and law enforcement. Although the twitter account is not a replacement for 911, its a great public relations tool. It would be interesting to see how a tool like this can help bring communities together and prevent crime in the long run. Great article.

  4. 3 key points that were raised in class were touched on in this article:

    1) Reports were structured with a 1 hour delay, to prevent people from learning about an investigation in progress and swarming over to gawk and perhaps interfere.

    2) Increased awareness of a crime could lead people to a greater feeling of vulnerability or conclude that police are not resolving the crime problem.

    3) Deeper impact of the twitter program could send a positive message to other police agencies who in many cases are timid or uncertain about how to use the new social media tools.

  5. This is a good idea by the police dept. This also might be an opportunity for a tech savvy young person to find their niche fighting crime in a different way. I think a lot of different businesses and services can learn from the Obama study and realize that the under 30 crowd might have more to offer than their older mentors. REVERSE MENTORING!

  6. I think the Seattle Police Department is taking the right approach by informing its citizens of crimes and events taking place in the city via social media. The new generation gets most of its news from their smartphones or social media sites; therefore, creating a new outlet for Seattle residents to stay updated with recent events will allow them to make critical decisions in emergency circumstances. For instance, if there is a hostage situation and someone has there smartphone available, the SeattlePD can give directions of what the people inside the building should do. This could be a life-saving technique.
    I think the public has the right to know anything that could possibly effect them. Therefore, news and updates about things happening in their area would be beneficial in many instances. There would have to be guidelines set up by officials, so tweets regarding personal issues would not be tweeted unless a consent was given by the parties involved.
    Finally, I think residents should not be concerned with the PD worrying too much about tweeting rather than solving crimes and protecting the city. I am sure the officers personlly would not be tweeting about any present issues, yet I believe dispatchers should have the responsibility of tweeting out crucial information as it becomes available. Therefore, the officers can focus on there duties and dispatchers will issue reports via Twitter after their responsibilities with officer communication has ended. Overall, great idea to help the community be aware of events occurring around the city.

  7. This is something that we will likely see more and more of. Not only will police departments be using Twitter to raise the community’s awareness of potential and actual criminal activity (which the NYPD has actually done a very good job of so far), however they will also likely be utilizing Twitter to make other public announcements. More and more city institutions (such as schools, local shelters, etc) will likely use Twitter in similar manners to inform the community of things such as school snow closings, pet vaccination open houses, and other announcements relevant to the community.

  8. I think Seattle Police department is doing the right thing. And I believe every residence has the right to know what is happening in the local area because safety is everyone’s priority. We try to stay away from any potential danger and Seattle PD’s twitter is helping people achieving this. Besides, I think Seattle PD can also post information about some basic survival knowledge on twitter.This information is very helpful for people when they are in danger and not everyone knows that. Teaching this to people so they can use it next time and it might save someone’s life.

  9. Ah these are all such great comments. I truly do believe this is a positive move for the Seattle PD and i hope other cities follow suit. This could be such a helpful tool for police departments to spread the word/picture of a suspect they are looking for, street closures, evacuations, etc. Kevin Muller makes a good point that if he had to sign into his Twitter account to access the tweets, how can the PD expand this so that anyone can follow? Maybe they would have to have an open blog site that links their Tweets to the blog so anyone can actually access it–with or without a Twitter account. I also think that this idea can broaden awareness to every local resident and make it even easier for them to access their breaking news. I would be interested to see how it works out, how its quantified to see how many people are actually following, retweeting, etc…..and if other cities follow suit!

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