Brian Peteritas is a GOVERNING contributor.E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
Citizens often misunderstand police work and are left in the dark about crime that could be occuring in their own neighborhoods. The New York Times reports that the Seattle police department is taking aim at these concerns in an innovative new social media project called Tweets-by-beat. The project began in late September with the launch of 51 hyper-local neighborhood Twitter accounts that are automated to tweet information from the police computer dispatch system. A one-hour delay is built in to discourage people swarming to the scenes of active investigations. Nearly everything that happens in the neighborhood gets auto-tweeted though sex crimes and domestic violence cases are not put into the stream to allow victims privacy. The accounts are not monitored regularly by a person, but the department's main Twitter account is so feedback or tips about crimes can be given there.