Sneak peek by tweet into RNC

Evening patrol experience shared through Twitter

Published on March 31, 2014
Const. Geoff Higdon will be riding shotgun Tuesday night in a Royal Newfoundland Constabulary cruiser to take the police force’s Twitter followers behind the scenes of a patrol officer’s night-shift experience in St. John’s.
— Photo by Andrew Robinson/The Telegram

The Royal Newfoundland Constabulary will use social media this week to offer the public a behind-the-scenes look at how a patrol officer’s evening shift typically works.
Through the provincial police force’s official Twitter account — @RNC_PoliceNL — followers will be able to track every move Const. Geoff Higdon and Const. Stacy Sweetland make while patrolling the St. John’s metro area’s streets.

“I come to work every day, and I don’t know what to expect,” said Higdon, who will be riding shotgun to send tweets while Sweetland handles the driving. “So I guess that’s maybe what (the public) can expect — they can expect to expect the unexpected.”

Higdon first came across the concept of a tweet-along event when he encountered a police force in Texas that used its Twitter account in that fashion. He subsequently found many others who have live-tweeted patrols to offer the public a virtual ride-along.

“When (the RNC) actually first joined Twitter (in February), we had a lot of people asking us if we’d be doing a tweet-along, which was from day one of the concept of us getting Twitter a part of the plan,” said Higdon.

Starting Tuesday at 7:30 p.m. and lasting until 11:30 p.m, Higdon expects those following the RNC’s Twitter account will share the experience of responding to a call, dealing with traffic infractions, and whatever else comes their way.

“People can ask questions of the officer who is actually going to be driving, and it’s going to be her show, not mine,” said Higdon. “We can work together and try to answer as much as we can from the public in 140 characters or less.”

Higdon said the reason for holding a tweet-along on a night shift is twofold. Traffic to the RNC’s social media accounts increases during nights, which also tend to be busier when it comes to police work.

“We’re really excited,” Higdon said. “We’ve got some applications downloaded to a couple of smartphones that we’re hoping we can (use) to post videos on the fly to our YouTube channel and actually link them back through Twitter, and also we’ve got some apps for capturing photos that we’re going to share as well.”

Higdon hopes this tweet-along will be the first of many for the RNC. In addition to helping inform the public about police work in general, he expects the event will be of particular interest to those curious about policing as a career option.

The RNC’s Twitter account has attracted more than 6,500 followers since its launch almost six weeks ago.

“We get a lot of people tweeting to us and asking questions, and we’re redirecting people where we can,” said Higdon. “We’re hoping to actually vastly expand our social media profile within the next few months. We’re growing one account, and we’ll see how it goes from there.”

That expanded social media presence will likely come through the creation of separate accounts to represent the Northeast Avalon, Corner Brook and Western Labrador divisions of the RNC.

Twitter: @TeleAndrew


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