Cops at the Four-Five made history when the East Bronx precinct used its first hashtag on June 27 at 7:57 pm.
“Fireworks @OrchardBeach. With Boro Pres Ruben Diaz #orchardbeach” tweeted — yes, tweeted — the 45th Precinct from its new Twitter account, @NYPD45Pct, which went live on June 26.
The tweet was accompanied by a blurry photo of the precinct’s commanding officer, Captain James McGeown, posing with Borough President Diaz, with Eastchester Bay in the background.
The Four-Five — which covers Pelham Bay, Westchester Square, Throggs Neck and City Island — is one of three Bronx police precincts to have embraced social media’s newest darling and create a Twitter account. Locals who “follow” the precinct on Twitter will now get updates on community crime trends and information on upcoming police-sponsored events and workshops. At least that’s the plan for now.
The precinct’s top cop admits that his Twitter game is a work in progress.
“I would say I’m a novice, but I’m learning,” said McGeown, adding that so far he has been the one crafting the tweets. “I think it’s coming along.”
McGeown said he underwent a Twitter boot camp over the last month with other commanding officers. All precincts in the city will eventually have Twitter accounts, as mandated by Police Commissioner Bill Bratton, who himself joined the social media site in January.
The department’s goal is to build a more transparent and friendly relationship with the public.
“Basically, it’s to show different things that police does other than lock people up,” said Anne Marie Morrison, community affairs officer at the Four-Five.
The Precinct sent a mass email to friends and local leaders announcing the newly created Twitter account on June 26. Since then, the precinct has gained 165 followers, as of press time. The 44th Precinct in the South Bronx led all Bronx precincts with 175 followers, while the 52nd Precinct in the West Bronx had 125 followers.
“We hope it will build on itself,” said McGeown. “The benefit of Twitter, apparently, is that your followers get it, and then they share it to their followers.”
The chief said he never imagined that he would be able to reach hundreds of locals with just a few clicks on his smartphone when he joined the NYPD nearly three decades ago. Back then, cops got the word out solely by posting fliers and attending local meetings — old-school methods that McGeown said will continue even with the social media push.
“People still like that personal touch, and we’ll still be at community meetings,” said the Captain. “But this just reaches so many more people.”