EUGENE O'DONNELL, a professor of police studies at John Jay College of Criminal Justice in Manhattan, describes the Seattle Police Department's use of Twitter in a project called, "Tweets by beat," trailblazing. "It shows a willingness I haven't seen in large supply to really affirmatively make available, warts and all, a clear picture to people of what's going on."
The business of policing, as cops have known since at least the first bobbies on the beat, is partly about being seen on the job, having a local presence, even if it is just twirling a baton down the avenue.
But does "local" mean the same thing in the disembodied chatter of social media? The Seattle Police Department, which presides over one of the nation's most tech-savvy - if not saturated - cities, is diving in to find out, in a project that began last week with 51 hyper-local neighborhood Twitter accounts providing moment-to-moment crime reports.
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