The New York Police Department’s recent experience with Twitter, in which a request for photos of ordinary people posing with officers produced a rash of unflattering images, showed that the department is comfortable with trying new things, Zachary Tumin, tapped by Police Commissioner William Bratton to promote more police use of social media, tells the New York Times. The department gained 4,000 followers in the episode. Nancy Kolb, who tracks social media for the International Association of Chiefs of Police, said the response was “a learning lesson.”
Tumin, who has a staff of 10, is a former head of public safety for New York City schools and the co-author with Bratton of a book for business leaders, “Collaborate or Perish!” The push aims beyond Twitter and Facebook. Having local commanders posting their own messages to social media, as a few have this month, is a critical step in getting them comfortable with making their own decisions in the communities they police. “This is a very, very big move for this department,” Tumin said. “It's about unfreezing it. It's about encouraging the men and women in command positions to take action and use the discretion of their positions with which they are entrusted.” It is a message meant to draw a bright line between Bratton and his predecessor, Raymond Kelly, who concentrated much of the decision-making for the department at headquarters.