A drug arrest, a drunken driving stop, a traffic crash and a police chase filled the Huntington Beach Police Department’s Twitter feed Friday night.
These police calls were part of a virtual ride-along Huntington Beach police hosted on Twitter as part of the Global Police Tweet-a-thon – an international event that encourages law enforcement agencies to use social media to engage with the community.
“There were a lot of people joining in and actually responding and commenting,” said Capt. Russell Reinhart. “It gives good insight into what police officers are responding to. I think it was successful.”
Tweets including an intoxicated woman calling police for a ride home and a couple having sex outside their car with the hashtag “get a room” offered some comedic relief Friday night, but many of the tweets chronicled real-time police activity.
Also among the tweets: a traffic stop that turned out a drug arrest after officers found a small bag of crack cocaine stuffed into a faux Pepsi can, a theft at Kohl’s and officers responding to firework calls.
The most action-packed Twitter stream documented the arrest of a burglary suspect who was running across rooftops to evade officers at about midnight near Beach Boulevard and Talbert Avenue.
“With some well-coordinated teamwork by the officers, the suspect was found by officers hiding in some bushes and taken into custody,” Reinhart said.
The bi-annual Global Police Tweet-a-thon includes hundreds of law enforcement agencies across the world tweeting to give the community a glimpse into the work they do.
The one-day event was founded by social media consultant Lauri Stevens in March 2013. The inaugural Tweet-a-thon reached more than 11 million people around the world from New Zealand to North America.
Reinhart said the virtual ride-along drew 250 new followers to the department’s Twitter account. Huntington Beach police now have a little more than 4,600 followers.
“Based on the level of success from last night, we will do it more often than once every six months,” Reinhart said.
Although this was the department’s first Tweet-a-thon, Huntington Beach actively uses social media as a tool to engage the community, distribute safety information and even assist investigations.
“Social media is a form of community-oriented policing; it’s just how people are talking,” Reinhart said. “If we are not on social media, we’re missing a big part of being in the community.”