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Social Media Column: Edmonton police tweet too

Published in the June 26, 2012 issue of The Edmonton Sun.

Linda’s social media column can be found every Tuesday in the Edmonton Sun.

Edmonton police tweet too

@CstPower: “Drunk fight: ‘… she had a knife.’ ‘Ok, what did the knife look like?’ ‘It doesn’t matter.’ ‘…?’ They fight & I get the headache #eps”

You don’t often get to hear those kinds of comments from members of the Edmonton Police Service.

In fact, you often won’t interact much at all with officers unless you’ve been a victim of a crime or have committed a crime.

But that’s all very different these days thanks to social media (specifically, Twitter).

Edmonton police officers officially began tweeting in 2009 as a way to show potential applicants what a day in the life of an officer was like.

There are now six tweeting constables who provide Edmontonians an online glimpse into the world of policing.

Const. Brendan Power (@CstPower) says the tool has turned into a “bridge between the police and the public.” Power has nearly 3,000 followers on Twitter, making him the most popular tweeting constable locally. The EPS believe Power has one of the highest follower counts among all tweeting officers across the country.

Power says doubling as a “Twitter cop” can be challenging at times, but worth it.

“There’s a fine line when tweeting about policing. Will this compromise an investigation, compromise a trial, reveal identity, cause panic, and be misinterpreted or twisted?” he says.

“The response and interactions I have had have been overwhelmingly positive. As unsure as I was when I started, this has become a regular part of my day.”

I love receiving Twitter updates from officers. It personalizes them. It humanizes them. Quite frankly it makes you like cops. Of course it could be better. Some constables don’t tweet for days and if they do it’s not often that day. But I applaud the EPS for their efforts in using social media to communicate, educate and interact with Edmontonians.

Just like businesses try to grapple with social media and how it can be used to benefit their companies, so too is the EPS trying to figure out the most effective way to use social networks to connect with citizens and dispel any misconceptions there may be surrounding city police.

I can only assume the EPS’ social media practices will get better as time goes on. They’ve certainly shown they believe social media is something that deserves to be invested in.

On Friday, the EPS social media team will talk about what they do and what direction they hope to take at this month’s Social Media Breakfast. Follow along online at #smbyeg18

EPS Tweeting Constables:

Const. Brendan Power – @CstPower

Const. Coral Spiker – @CstSpiker

Const. Chapman Lee – @Cst_Lee

Const. Sean DeZoeten – @CstDeZoeten

Const. Michelle Horchuk – @CstHorchuk

Const. Kurtis Hauptman – @CstHauptman

Some EPS tweets of the week:

@CstSpiker: So when I applied for this position of following bad guys around, the job description never mentioned dying of heat in the back seat of a car.

@CstHauptman: In court this morning – housebreaking to commit robbery investigation. The house was surrounded before they could leave.

@CstPower: Met a nice young lady who aspires to be a cop. Will never happen due to bad decisions as a teen. Don’t let today define your tomorrow kids.

@Cst_Lee: I wonder what they are going to ask me today at the innercity social work class… #yeg #eps

Click here to read the column on the Edmonton Sun website!

Linda Hoang is an Edmonton blogger who writes about food, travel, lifestyle/events and pets. She’s also a social media/digital specialist with a journalism background. Linda is in love with her city and loves exploring and promoting Edmonton and other places she visits with her husband Mike. Linda is also the founder of the Edmonton International Cat Festival (and has 2 cats herself, along with 2 dogs).

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