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Police turning to social media

Monroe County, N.Y. - Do you follow your local police department on Twitter or Facebook?

If you dont you may want to consider it because more and more police agencies are turning to social media to keep their communities informed.

In recent months the Gates Police Department has been actively updating its Facebook page with everything from fun photos at community events or even at an officers office birthday party. But there are also important crime alerts and safety warnings that could impact you or your neighborhood.

"Social media is an outstanding tool, explained Gates Police Officer Lance Duffy. It's a way to get our information out to the public in regards to safety issues, protecting yourself and your property, and also community events that are happening.

"We use it on a daily basis, we update it on a daily basis we hope that your listeners are going to Like the Gates Police Department on Facebook, we're trying to start a trend here."

The trend is one that is already in full swing across Monroe County and throughout Western New York.

Since January Rochester Police Chief James Sheppard has hosted regular Twitter Town Hall Meetings and interacted with the community on the departments profile: @RochesterNYPD

"Every Tuesday from 3 p.m. to 4 p.m. he gets on and uses the R.P.D. Twitter page and communicates with members of the community or whoever wants to come and ask him questions, explained spokeswoman Elena Correia. And thats him you're getting the real deal. That's him sitting there and answering your questions."

This month R.P.D. used Twitter to warn the community about Marcus Freeman, a man wanted for a recent homicide and double shooting on Pullman Avenue.

"We received many leads and tips on that and we were able to solve that through the community," said Sgt. Correia.

"More people are getting their information from Facebook and Twitter than they are from going to websites now and so it's allowed us to get that information out quicker," said Commander David Phelps of the Monroe County Sheriffs Office.

That agency recently hired a communications specialist with a background in news, Brendan ORiordan, who manages the accounts and offers followers a glimpse at the personalities of the deputies who wear the uniforms.

Regular crime reports, community events, and the latest significant arrests are also posted on the Sheriffs Twitter feed.

"The feedback has been phenomenal from the community, said Commander Phelps. Deputies actually hear directly from community members commenting on their arrests, Great job you caught the guy who was in my neighborhood, so it's been very good and I really didn't expect that."

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Washington Times