Beginning at 8 a.m. on Friday, March 22, police officers and others in law enforcement worldwide logged into Twitter to participate in a 24-hour Global Police Tweet-a-Thon. The goal? To connect and share thoughts about what wearing a police badge really means.

According to BrightPlanet, more than 200 police departments from about 10 countries speaking 23 languages participated in the tweet-a-thon -- where they used the hashtag #poltwt to tweet about safety tips, alerts on criminal activity in progress, and busts of rather creative drug smugglers, to name a few. The campaign generated almost 50,000 tweets from the #poltwt hashtag resulting in more than 18,000 retweets.

Some of the tweets posted during the marathon-style campaign are as followed:

The tweet-a-thon, led by Lauri Stevens, founder of LAwS Communications, said her primary objective was to build camaraderie among the various police agencies -- to connect them and improve their communication.

“They all facing the same issues and in every [type of] geography," she said. "Nothing’s really different. They all do the same job.”

Such an event shows the networking capability of a profession usually criticized for operating in fragmented blocks of specialization and jurisdiction, said Scott Silverii, chief of police for the Thibodaux, La., Police Department. “My hope is that those agencies and senior leadership executives still hesitant about the medium of social media take the plunge into the realm of public transparency.”

Ryan Grelle, a spokesman for the Denton, Texas, Police Department, said that although the Denton PD had held tweet-alongs in the past -- similar to police ride-alongs, where civilians ride along in a police car to observe an officer’s work -- this was the department’s first time participating in a tweet-a-thon. And during the event, Grelle sent close to 150 tweets to agencies in and outside the U.S. to encourage them to participate in the campaign.

“We thought it would be fun to take part in this global event with so many agencies from around the world tweeting calls,” Grelle said. “It just goes to show our followers and followers around the world, that police may have a different badge on their chest or patch on their sleeve, but we all take the same kind of calls no matter if you are in Denton, Texas, or in Finland.”

In Mesa County, Colo., Sheriff’s Office spokeswoman Heather Benjamin said feedback from her community was altogether positive -- many said they enjoyed learning about the similarities and differences in what law enforcement agencies around the world do.

And like Silverii in Thibodaux, La., the main goal for the Billerica, Mass., Police Department was to encourage police agencies that don’t use social media to reconsider -- to think about using it as a tool, and to also enjoy camaraderie with the other agencies around the world, said Greg Katz, lieutenant and communications manager of the department.

 “The global reach achieved through applications like Twitter is astounding, Katz said. “Just think what you can accomplish on a local level.”

Image courtesy of Shutterstock

Sarah Rich, Staff Writer Sarah Rich  |  Staff Writer

In 2008, Sarah Rich graduated from California State University, Chico, where she majored in news-editorial journalism and minored in sociology. Since 2010, Sarah has written for Government Technology magazine and covers a spectrum of public-sector IT topics, including cloud computing, transparency, broadband, and other innovative projects and trends. She currently lives in Sacramento, Calif.