The Meridian Police Department has joined the likes of celebrities and ordinary citizens by entering the world of Twitter, the social networking site that asks the simple question, 'What are you doing?'
The MPD is using it to communicate with residents instantly. For example, if you are already following MeridianPD on Twitter you would have known to expect a delay on the frontage roads by the interstate due to an accident on the Texas turnaround.
"We put the information in there, and then if you signed up for that Twitter account, the information gets to your cell phone. We timed it between 5 and eleven seconds," said Capt. Dean Harper.
For Harper the benefit is that you don't have to be in front of a computer to send or receive messages. If you choose to do so, you can have the departments tweets sent directly to your cell phone as a text message or text the department back with breaking information. Officials say they hope that would have been the case Thursday during a convenience store robbery.
If there were over 400 people signed up for Twitter Thursday, then all 400 would have known that D & N Curb Store was robbed and they would have had the suspect's description.
And from there, Harper said he believes having that information will lead to many residents turning in valuable tips that could lead to arrests. A
t a time when agencies across the country are experiencing budget cuts, this free service gives authorities more eyes around town.
"It is sort of like having 5,000 more police officers on the street," Harper said.
One of the first community situations where the department will be twittering will be the closing of the 22nd Avenue Bridge Monday. The department will send out a message reminding drivers that the bridge is closed between Front Street and A Street, and in the future let them know if any of the detour roads close.
If you are new to twitter, signing up is fairly straightforward, and if you get confused, a how-to video is available by clicking the Help icon.