The New York Police Department’s commanders can deal with hardened criminals and rookie officers, but sharing their thoughts in 140 characters without a gaffe is another matter, says the Wall Street Journal. Since May, the top brass has endured training unlike any they have taken since the Police Academy—Twitter School. At the most recent course, this month at John Jay College of Criminal Justice, 16 commanders spent six hours hunched over keyboards and listening to lectures from the department’s social media team. Since Commissioner William Bratton took office on Jan. 1, the number of NYPD Facebook followers has grown 40 percent and the number on Twitter has increased 80 percent.
Good ideas: Dad humor. Using hashtags. Animal rescues. Bad ideas: Using military time. Seeming insensitive. Falling for scams. “If a Nigerian prince contacts you on Twitter, please do not engage,” said lead trainer Martha Norrick, police director of citizen and workforce engagement who worked for President Obama’s campaign. NYPD officials realized the value of social media in 2012, when a Facebook post of an officer giving a homeless man a new pair of shoes went viral. Until January, the only official account was @NYPDnews, run by the department’s media relations team. Now, the NYPD has more than 40 accounts and expects to have dozens more, with every precinct, public housing patrol unit and transit commander tweeting by year’s end, said Zachary Tumin, a deputy commissioner who heads the department’s social media effort.