Prince George’s County police district commanders will be hashing out another strategy to increase community connectivity by using Twitter as a tool to communicate with residents and collect criminal information.
County Deputy Chief George Nader said police are being shown the benefits of the social media application as it allows officers to connect directly with residents and to receive and distribute information from them in real-time.
“This police department is heavily ingrained in community policing, and the benefit is developing a relationship with the real live community,” Nader said.
Nader runs his own Twitter account, where he tweets police information and retweets the county’s media account. With district commanders using the tools, distributed information will be focused on specific areas of the county, which may have different needs than other areas, Nader said.
Officers can potentially collect real-time information after a crime or distribute information like Crime Solver fliers for those areas, Nader said.
“The intelligence alone you can get from people is excellent,” Nader said. “We feed out information and also can be fed information.”
There are no plans to mandate Twitter use, said Lt. William Alexander, county police spokesman. Alexander often runs the county’s media account, @PGPDNews, which distributes information to thousands of followers.
Maj. Raphael Grant, formerly commander of police District IV, said he would use Twitter and email distribution lists as tools to connect with the community. District IV encompasses Oxon Hill, Fort Washington and other south county areas.
Grant was commander for about six months, and he said Twitter, along with email chains, allowed him to spread information quickly to people in his community. Officers can’t share critical investigative information on accounts, such as where officers might do a search, but he did say it was a great tool to spread information like suspect photos and information. Grant said he now serves as the regional investigation division commander.
“I used it really as a tool or vehicle to get the community involved,” Grant said. “Things we need to help solve cases. It was kind of a like a community forum. “
Grant said he liked that the police department was attempting to get more localized involvement with Twitter. He said police officers live and breathe off the information they get from the communities, so the more interaction the better.
“You have to be tied into the community,” Grant said. “They live in the community you are protecting. “