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January 2, 2013 at 8:43 AM

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SPD's foray into the Twitterverse just a sign of the times

In non-fiscal cliff-related news: the Seattle Police Department has entered the Twitterverse and critics call it the worst reform effort since the last one. Eyes are on the city's police department as it enacts a set of 20 improvement strategies to comply wtih a U.S. Department of Justice investigation.

Dorry ElĂ­as-Garcia, of the Minority Executive Directors Coalition of King County, noted in this story that the department's social media outreach isn't likely to reach "those in our community we are most concerned about."

But a Pew Research Center survey found more African Americans and Hispanics are on Twitter than white Americans. Here's the breakdown: 25 percent of online African Americans now use Twitter, compared to 19 percent of Hispanics and just 9 percent of whites.

Tweets cannot take the place of a visible and unthreatening police presence in communities of color. Neighborhood policing efforts designed to build trust work best through face to face interactions.

But if you're looking to reach communities of color online, Twitter is a safe best.

Critics ought to reserve their ire for the department's bigger reforms. This is much ado about nothing. When the Pope has a Twitter feed, anyone who doesn't is just late. @Pontifex. You're welcome.

The department has a huge challenge. This Seattle Times editorial advised Mayor Mike McGinn and the department's top police brass to quit stalling and get moving on needed reforms.

Let's keep our attention on the important stuff. There's nothing to worry about so far with the department on Twitter. Indeed, the employees posting on the official feed should not quit their day jobs. They are not ready for Comedy Central. A snake spotted in a Ravenna park garnered this from @SeattlePD: "Turn yourself in and we will let the #scalesofjustice decide the rest." Snort.

A momentary digression: The fake account set up for the snake, @RavennaPkPython, was not half as amusing as tweets by @BronxZoosCobra. Now that snake was seriously funny.


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