Many police departments have some presence on Twitter. Few, if any, are as active on the platform as Seattle Police though.
As MediaBistro reports, the department is now posting dispatches from its 51 beats. There is an hour delay before the calls are posted in the interest of privacy, and sensitive dispatches for things like domestic violence and sexual assaults will not be posted.
It’s an interesting and open policy, but it also is an example of a news-maker directly communicating with news readers, seemingly with no need for a journalist. But this is not the case.
A quick scan of the department’s tweets-by-beat feed shows the dispatches are in a very basic, raw form. They signify that an event happened, but do not tell a story. For example:
In my opinion, the Seattle Police Department’s Twitter activity is ultimately good for journalists. It’s an example of a government agency being particularly forthright with public information, and can likely be used as a good reference to keep track of crime trends and data.
Far from being a threat to journalists, the heavy presence of Seattle Police on Twitter could in fact be a helpful new tool for reporters.