Baltimore police can text you with news of shootings and arrests. You can see pictures of officers and their helicopters and horses on Facebook, where you can also add comments on the department’s wall, says the Baltimore Sun. You can follow the department on Twitter. Now, city cops can send mug shots of wanted felons right to your cell phone. It’s a new social media adventure that began Monday and could be expanded if it proves useful and popular.
Many police departments across the country are online in various ways, but few use instant communication to inform residents of breaking crime news. Many, including those in the suburbs around Baltimore, post press releases or announcements but not news of shootings in real time. In some ways, it seems strange for city officials – who are sensitive to Baltimore’s frequent ranking among the worst in crime categories such as homicide – to publicize even more crime. Anthony Guglielmi, the department’s chief spokesman, said he and the commissioner discussed that issue and concluded that the chief “is not here for public relations, he’s here to make Baltimore safer.”