New focus on social media by Dallas police

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by REBECCA LOPEZ

Bio | Email | Follow: @rlopezwfaa

WFAA

Posted on February 7, 2014 at 11:26 PM

Updated Saturday, Feb 8 at 5:09 PM

DALLAS — Twitter and Facebook are how many people get information these days. And Dallas Police Chief David Brown wants his officers to think more about social media.

Soon, you'll see more tweets coming from crime scenes.

"We want officers to be prepared to use social media to speak directly to citizens in the case of major critical incidents, like the bombings in Boston," the department told News 8 in a statement.

But some officers don't think it's their job to do that.

We spoke to the vice president of the Dallas Police Association. He's undercover, so we can't use his name.

"To be honest with you, I don't think the city leaders or taxpayers expect us to be tweeting when we should be arresting people," he said.

Supervisors in patrol and in almost every division — including homicide and robbery — have been asked to find officers who will voluntarily tweet.

In addition, two officers will begin responding to crime scenes, gathering information and filing social media reports.

"I don't think it's the proper use of police resources," the DPA vice president said. "I think the citizens of Dallas expect us to investigate crimes, answer calls, and put bad folks in jail... that's what we do."

We talked to several citizens' groups who worry that providing too much information will jeopardize police investigations.

"Chief Brown may know what he is wanting to do and going about it, but maybe going about it too quick," said Bob Noyes with the Walnut Hill Neighborhood Association.

The DPA also fears officers could get in trouble if they tweet incorrect information.

Chief Brown himself was criticized for tweeting profanity recently.

The Dallas Police Association and the Dallas Fraternal Order of Police say they are also concerned officers might get in trouble if they tweet something that is wrong.

Shawn Williams, the department’s communication director, said officers will be trained and the chief will unveil his new social media strategy later this month.

E-mail rlopez@wfaa.com

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