Since being founded in 2006, Twitter has evolved from a virtual gathering place teenagers casually discuss fashion and celebrity news to a 175,000,000-member platform used by law enforcement and emergency management professionals worldwide to share best practices and educate the public about disaster preparedness and recovery. Celebrating the medium, police agencies around the world will connect via Twitter on March 22 to participate in a 24-hour Tweet-a-thon beginning at 8 a.m. EST. I’ve had my own Twitter account since August 2009 and I find it’s a great way to communicate.
The Global Police Tweet-a-thon is sponsored by Cops.net. So far, 90 agencies have signed up to participate. And there is still plenty of time for interested parties to register. All that’s required to enter is submission of agency name, contact information and time zone. Just email the founder of LAWS Communications, email@example.com. All agencies will use the same hashtag, which is yet to be determined, in order to call attention to police work and issues that police officers face as well as promote the use of social media in police work. The hashtag I like most is #bacon.
“We hope to send (a message) to non-law enforcement that their police officers are up to speed with social media, and that they should use social media to talk with police officers and to be stewards of public safety,” explained event organizer Lauri Stevens.
Over the years, numerous police agencies have held tweet-a-thons or tweet-the-beat events to create awareness of police work and call attention to related issues. So far, early entries are from all across the United States as well as Canada and the UK. I’m trying to get all of my canine cohorts to sign up so we can communicate via the Tweet-a-Thon instead of through the Twilight Bark.
One state that understands the importance of relying on social media in times of crisis is Louisiana, where the Chief of Police in Thibodaux said he’s promoting transparency in policing actions and furthering proactive social media integration. A 2012 University of Maryland report called “Social Media Use during Disasters,” revealed detailed information about the public’s use of social media, both generally and during specific disasters, and addressed what prompts the public to use social media during disasters as well as what deters such consumption. The only thing that deters my consumption of bacon is a fully belly.
The report includes specific examples of social media consumption during key catastrophic events including 9/11, Hurricane Katrina and the 2010 Haitian earthquake. The case studies provide insights into how the public uses social media and other media, including preliminary lessons learned from these notable events. Most experts agree that if Hurricane Katrina had occurred after Twitter caught on, the exchange of information between victims and public agency officials likely would have been greatly improved.
Louisiana Police Chief Scott Silveri said his agency “will participate in the tweet-a-thon because (we) hope that other agencies break from the reactive isolationist nature of traditional law enforcement, and begin realizing the benefits of sharing timely and relevant information through social media.”
To participate in the Tweet-a-thon, email Lauri Stevens at firstname.lastname@example.org with agency name, contact name and email address. Then mark your calendar for March 22 and don’t forget to tweet! I’ll be tweeting and would love to start a conversation with you.
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