The Globe today reports on the Boston Police Department’s strategy of (1) greatly increasing the number of officers walking neighborhood beats in the city; and (2) how the department is employing Twitter in conjunction with those officers on foot. For now, individual officers do not have Twitter “handles”, but supervisors who accompany them do and they Tweet from the street. The example cited in the article was Deputy Superintendent Nora Baston who is @DeputyBaston on Twitter. The force behind this strategy is, of course, Boston Police Superintendent Ed Davis, who formerly led the Lowell Police Department. Ed is @EdDavis3 on Twitter. The Boston Police Department is @Boston_Police.
When it comes to social media, the Lowell Police have certainly been active. The department is @LowellPD and often disseminates important and interesting information via this channel. But like most of us on Twitter, me especially, the LPD’s usage tends to ebb and flow which is understandable given all the other things that need to be done. I do believe, however, that Twitter has enormous potential for individuals but most especially institutions to connect with their constituencies. To do that, the person doing the Tweeting has to develop a usage strategy in advance that almost scripts out your Tweets for the day (with the flexibility to supplement them as unexpected events arise). It’s only with that kind of advanced planning that you will create the steady flow of Tweets necessary to gain and keep a critical mass of followers.