Nine Bay Area police departments, along with nearly 200 law enforcement agencies in 10 countries worldwide, set their tweets in motion on a virtual ride-along Friday to depict in real time a day in the life of an officer on patrol.
"Staff beginning the day with lots of coffee. ... Gonna need it to stay up for 24 hours!" the Fremont Police Department tweeted just after 9 a.m., along with the hashtag "#poltwt," which began trending worldwide just hours into the "tweet-a-thon."
Fremont is just one of several Bay Area law enforcement agencies participating in the tweet-a-thon, along with San Mateo, Palo Alto, East Palo Alto, Sunnyvale, San Rafael, Mountain View, Campbell and Los Gatos.
While the event officially kicked off at 8 a.m., tweets began rolling in from departments abroad as early as Thursday afternoon due to differences in time zones.
"Don't lippy and drive. Report of a car swerving over the road while driver applies make up," read a tweet from Manukau police in New Zealand. Fremont police gave their New Zealand colleagues a shout-out as they began their virtual ride-along about 2 p.m. Thursday.
Fremont police, who routinely post police blotters on their Twitter feed, by 10 a.m. had already tweeted a live narrative of their response to a burglary, a car accident and a drunk man in a park whom they took to jail to "sleep it off."
While Fremont, Campbell and Mountain View started rolling out feeds just after 8 a.m., other departments plan to begin later, with Sunnyvale slated to begin at noon and Palo Alto starting at 3 p.m. with police Chief Dennis Burns and a public information officer at the helm.
"It makes sense for us to participate in this worldwide Twitter event," Burns said in a statement. "Not only is Palo Alto the 'birthplace of Silicon Valley,' but our city is also recognized worldwide as a leader in cutting-edge technological development and civic engagement."
Lauri Stevens, the organizer of the event with Boston-based LAwS Communications, said law enforcement agencies are making a concerted effort to use Twitter and Facebook to connect with residents in the areas they serve. Organizers intend for the tweet-a-thon to draw attention to police presence in the social media sphere.
"We hope it sends a message to the public that their police officers are up to speed with social media, and that they can use these channels to talk with police officers and to be stewards of public safety," Stevens said in a statement. The global social media event "is about getting police to engage with communities and each other," she said.
For a list of law enforcement agencies that have signed up to participate in the global tweet-a-thon, go to https://twitter.com/ConnectedCOPS/police-tweet-a-thon-2013/members.