Hilliard Northwest News

Hilliard police

Residents summoned to virtual ride-along


Twitter users will be able to follow Hilliard police officers through an eight-hour shift Friday, Feb. 21.

"It's a virtual ride-along for all of our followers on Twitter," Chief Doug Francis said. "It's been going on for a little while now out west. Some departments in Texas have done it. But I asked around and don't know of any department that has done this here."

From noon to 8 p.m., Francis, Deputy Chief Bobby Fisher and Michael Deaton and Hyda Slone, the police division's community outreach officers, will tweet the activities of on-duty officers and firefighters from the Norwich Township Fire Department.

The team of four will monitor in-cruiser radio traffic and dispatching from the Northwest Regional Emergency Communications Center.

"For instance, we would tweet (an officer) stopped a speeder on (Interstate) 270 or responding to a crash on Cemetery Road," Francis said.

When possible, Francis will go to an active scene and take pictures to post, he said.

"We'll probably also tweet safety tips," Francis said.

Francis said the live tweets will be the department's latest effort in embracing social media to communicate with residents.

Since establishing a Facebook page about two months ago, the Hilliard Division of Police has gained 1,500 "likes" and generated as many as 25,000 hits on a single day, Francis said.

"One of the goals of the tweet-along is to give more people an appreciation for what police and (firefighters) do on any given day, how busy we are and the types of calls we handle, but also to utilize social media to interact with the public," Francis said.

Francis said the police division will assess the event but it is likely the department will schedule tweet-along sessions in the future.

To receive the department's tweets, follow @Hilliard_Police and respond to tweets using "#tweetalong" as the hashtag.

Information about the event also is available on the police division's Facebook page.