The Seattle Police Department has started Tweets-by-beat, 51 hyper-local neighborhood Twitter accounts providing moment-to-moment crime reports. The New York Times calls the project the nation’s most ambitious effort of its kind, transforming the pen and ink of the old police blotter into the bits and bytes of the digital age. It allows residents, including criminals, to know in almost real time about many of the large and small transgressions, crises, emergencies and downright weirdness in their neighborhoods.
“More and more people want to know what's going on on their piece of the rock,” said Police Chief John Diaz. “They want to specifically know what's going on in the areas around their home, around their work, where their children might be going to school. This is just a different way we could put out as much information as possible as quickly as possible.” Not everything will automatically pop up in 140 characters or fewer. Sex crimes were excluded, on the theory that Web attention could discourage people from reporting a rape or sexual assault, and domestic violence cases will remain off the Twitter list as well for similar reasons. Drawing attention to a private matter and alerting neighbors could make things worse for the victim.