The Palo Alto Police department will host a virtual ride-along today that is part of a global event involving 200 law-enforcement agencies in the U.S. and from 10 countries.
The departments will use Twitter to track a day of patrolling, handling calls and other public-safety issues as part of a global police "tweet-a-thon" organized by police media consulting firm LAwS Communications.
Bay Area residents can follow the action online through the hashtag, "poltwt" or @PaloAltoPolice. The event began at 8 a.m. Some departments located in different time zones began the tweet-a-thon Thursday night.
In the Bay Area, Palo Alto police will begin their virtual ride-along around 3 p.m. today with police Chief Dennis Burns behind the wheel of a patrol car. A public information officer will live-tweet the chief's response to calls, arrests, vehicle incidents and others events that occur during his shift.
Lauri Stevens, the organizer of the event with LAwS Communications in the Boston area, said the 24-hour global social media event "is about getting police to engage with communities and each other."
As social media use becomes more prevalent, Stevens said police departments are increasingly using platforms such as Twitter and Facebook to connect with residents.
The tweet-a-thon aims to "draw attention to police use of social media," Stevens said.
Participating Bay Area agencies include the San Rafael, San Mateo, East Palo Alto, Mountain View, Sunnyvale, Palo Alto, Los Gatos and Fremont police departments.
Outside the U.S., police departments from cities in countries including Finland, Spain, England, Sweden, Iceland, the Netherlands, and New Zealand will be online tweeting throughout the day.
Some of the global tweets will be in the department's native language, Stevens said, however many jurisdictions said they will have bi-lingual posts.