There’s a first time for everything. In this case, a virtual police ride-along for people using Twitter to follow two Wyoming Public Safety Officers during their 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. shift Wednesday. Officers Margo Clark (pictured above left) and Kelli Duimstra (above right) convinced their bosses to give tweeting on the beat a try.
“We thought it would be a great first step – a fun step – to encourage better communication between law enforcement and the public,” says Officer Clark who admits she uses Twitter off duty to keep track of her two teenage stepchildren and understands its usefulness. The goal, she explains, is to ultimately grow the department’s presence on Facebook and Twitter.
“Before proposing this, I did research on social media and law enforcement and found that there are many law enforcement agencies that use social media to grow their presence with their community. This will give us a better idea of how it might work for us.
“Ideally we’d like to get to the point of sharing public safety information with people in real time, to warn them of things or events happening, receive tips on suspects and help promote crime awareness,” explains Clark. “It’s good from a public relations standpoint too because it demonstrates what we do on a daily basis in our department, something the community has a right to know.”
Officer Clark made it clear that during the Tweet-along,names, addresses or photos of individuals involved in calls would not be tweeted. And if you didn’t participate, here’s a sample of how the Tweet-Along went:
During the five hour shift, there was a lot of interaction between the officers and curious tweeters. The conversation threads have not been posted due to privacy rights. Although it turned out to be a rather slow shift – not necessarily a bad thing for a first time tweet-along – the team had a following. In the end, Officers Clark and Duimstra were pleased with the results as was their boss, who tweeted:
Congratulations to Officers Clark and Duimstra. You made us all proud today to wear the WYDPS uniform. Thank You! Chief Carmody
Good job Officers! Until the next Tweet-Along, stay safe!