Cops to Tweet about Crimes with BlackBerrys While Working


A bit of bizarre BlackBerry related news is coming out of the Greater Manchester area in the United Kingdom—up to 80 police officers will be getting BlackBerry smartphones and be expected to Tweet about crimes in the area while on the clock. On top of that, the police force there is so starved for cash right now with the recession, that it is cutting up to 1,500 officers. This news comes in via the DailyMail—a UK based newspaper.

Before the neccsary ‘WTF’ outburst. Let me at least quote the police force’s web manager, Kevin Hoy, who stated that,

Twitter will become the main network for the force and new local Twitter channels will be set up in the neighbourhoods throughout the autumn. These will allow dedicated officers to tweet from the frontline, keeping local communities up to date on issues that affect them.”

Okay, that does not sound terrible. However, with a police force facing massive budget cuts, giving £150 smartphones out just to tweet might be a little foolish. One unnammed officer was quotted as saying that he cannot figure out how to use a BlackBerry at home, so he does not understand how the police force expects him to walk around typing out Tweets while policing his neighborhood beat. Another officer stated that, “It does not look very professional to be walking around typing.”

This kind of looks like a huge publicity stunt but I can see a little bit of rationale lurking in the back of the minds who thought this up. I feel bad though for the police officers who will end up stuck tweeting about crimes while trying to solve them. There is some potential here though for Twitter to end up as an aid to police. With more of the local citizenry knowing about what crimes have been committed and where, police might have another tool in their arsenal for solving them. Anyone down with tweeting in tips to the police? That actually sounds kind of dangerous to me actually. Through Twitter, Facebook and the like, what will stop criminals from silencing citizens who report what they know?

Tell me what you think of the move, and anyone think it might find its way to this side of the Pond? Is the future of law enforcement?


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