NewburyportNews.com, Newburyport, MA

Local News

March 21, 2013

Hashtag #fightcrime

Social media trending as law-enforcement tool

(Continued)

In the process, it has created greater transparency with the community, allowing residents to contact the police in ways that may seem less intimidating than calling the dispatch desk or visiting the Green Street station, Simons added.

The hope is that the department, via Twitter, can provide real-time updates on breaking situations such as snowstorms or traffic flow.

For the most part, Simons is the sole officer tweeting and keeping up with Twitter. He is eventually hoping to train dispatchers and other personnel on how to use Twitter so they can provide updates as well. Facebook messages, meanwhile, are posted by Simons, other detectives, one dispatcher and City Marshal Thomas Howard.

Simons stressed that Twitter and Facebook aren’t monitored around the clock.

“It’s becoming a bigger endeavor,” Simons said, adding that he thoroughly enjoys working with Twitter and Facebook. “It’s been an eye-opener for me.”

When Newburyport police opened its Facebook page, social media use among law-enforcement agencies in the region was sparse. But since then, Amesbury, Newbury and other departments have created their own Facebook pages and opened Twitter accounts. But none of the departments seem to be as active as Newburyport police in updating their status, relaying information or tweeting the latest news.

In recent weeks, however, Newbury police have taken to Twitter and Facebook to remind residents and anyone hoping to see the devastation on Plum Island in the aftermath of recent storms that access to Plum Island Center and the beaches south of the groin has remained closed.

Police there closed the beach almost two weeks ago following a massive winter storm that knocked two houses off their foundations and forced the demolition of four others. Several other houses were deemed uninhabitable or in danger of meeting a similar fate.

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