Sheriff all atwitter about tweeting

Mesa County Sheriff Stan Hilkey said not everything his department does “is sexy,” so some incidents or information may be overlooked. He wants to change that.

Through social media, specifically Twitter, Hilkey hopes the Sheriff Department’s direct contact with locals will continue to increase, giving the department a platform to share information of all sorts instantaneously.

An accident has closed a road? The Sheriff’s Department will update you.

A community class or department closure is coming? The department will tweet about that, too.

In an effort to increase awareness about its Twitter feed — @SheriffMesaColo — the department is participating in a global Tweet-a-thon starting at 8 a.m. Friday.

During the Tweet-a-thon, Sheriff’s Department spokeswoman Heather Benjamin will tweet throughout the day, giving people a 140-character “glimpse into what patrol handles” daily, she said.

The local Sheriff’s Department is one of dozens of agencies around the world taking part in this event organized by LAwS Communications founder Lauri Stevens, who lives on the East Coast and runs a blog about law enforcement using social media.

People can see local and global updates from the Tweet-a-thon at #poltwt.

Although Benjamin was the one who wanted the Sheriff’s Department to participate in the Tweet-a-thon, she got the go-ahead from Hilkey, who uses Twitter himself, but not as much as he should, he said.

“Overall, I’m a pretty big fan of social media in law enforcement,” he said.

For example, Hilkey used social media during last year’s Pine Ridge Fire in the De Beque area. Access was restricted, but he found a spot to take photos of the scene to immediately share with the public.

“We think (Twitter) is important because we use social media to reach constituents directly,” Benjamin said. “We can use it to push our message any time.”


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