Windsor police become social media savvy

The Windsor Police Service officially launched Facebook and Twitter accounts Thursday.

Service now uses Twitter and Facebook to connect with public

Front-line Windsor police officers may soon fire a tweet from the street.

The Windsor Police Service officially launched two social media accounts Thursday.

Road closures, crime statistics and major accidents will all be funnelled through the new Twitter and Facebook pages.

Staff Sergeant Brendan Dodd said the tools will provide real-time public safety alerts.

"This is really an initiative for providing an additional channel for our community to connect with its police service," Dodd said.

"We’re looking forward to being stayed informed on what our citizens’ comments, questions and concerns they may have."

Dodd said only a core communications group will be using these online tools at first, but will eventually expand.

"I definitely see the day some time down the road when we have the officers trained and familiar and comfortable with these tools. They will be using them at some point."

Starting Thursday the Windsor police will release a daily news report providing a snapshot of the previous day’s activity.

The new Facebook page is equipped with a crime mapping tool and the ability to report crimes online.

The agency will also use its online presence as a way to attract new recruits.

"We find so many of the current generation, people that may be interested in a career in policing, the first place they look is to social media to get a feel for an organization, to see if it’s a good fit," Dodd said.

One issue that Dodd agrees may arise because of the anonymity of the internet is reporting false information and threatening statements.

But Dodd said he doesn’t think this will be a problem if both sides remain mutually respectful.

With the majority of people getting information from mobile devices, Dodd said the new online tools are a great way to reach the public during a crisis.

"In an emergency various communities have found that citizens turned to social media to find information about questions on where can I obtain food and water or when will the lights come back on," Dodd said.

Police caution the social media accounts aren't monitored 24/7 and emergencies should always be dealt with by calling 9-11.

Windsor police say they are committed to the new initiative which will improve the effectiveness of the force.