Cambridge Police has started an automated tweeting system to broadcast crime reports as they come in. Take, for example, this tweet today:
02/19/13 08:57 REPORT OF POSSIBLE ASSAULT IN PROGRESS ON BLAKE ST IN #CAMBMA
In a statement, police say:
Previously, the department's Twitter account (@CambridgePolice) was manually updated, mainly during normal business hours. Now, tweets will be sent 24 hours a day, 7 days a week when police receive reports of certain types of incidents police have deemed important for the public to be aware of.
These tweets will consist of a time stamp, the type of incident, and a street name given for the location. All will also contain the language "report of possible" at the beginning of each tweet to indicate that the call that came in to dispatchers was reporting a possible crime which may or may not be confirmed upon officers' arrival.
The system is based on a similar setup in Seattle. Across the river, Boston Police have long manually sent out tweets on issues such as traffic problems and links to crime posts on the department Web site.
Police say they won't be tweeting every last call to 911 so as not to inundate followers. They've posted a list of the types of incidents that will go out. In addition to crime, the list includes blocked streets and fallen trees.