Calif. police spreading news faster with social media

One town is using Twitter and Nixle to text and email the community important news

The Press Enterprise

CORONA, Calif. — The Corona Police Department is now providing more information to the city's residents, and in ways that a recent study shows many Americans prefer to receive it.

Corona police public information officers in November sent their first news releases via Twitter and Nixle, a third-party service that distributes information from public-safety agencies, businesses and other groups.

"We found a lot of agencies in the area have social media outlets and are reaching a large segment of the population and provide more information to the community than they were already getting," Corona police Sgt. Brent Nelson said in a phone interview.

The Riverside County Sheriff's Department, for instance, uses Nixle. The Riverside County district attorney's office and others send alerts through Twitter. Corona already has a Facebook page, as do most Inland agencies and cities.

The results of a two-year study by the Pew Internet & American Life Project, announced in September, showed that while 54 percent of Americans receive news on desktop or laptop computers, 23 percent now get news on at least two devices, including a smart phone or a tablet. Also, 13 percent of adults said they receive news alerts about their community sent to their phones by text messages or email.

Through Nixle, Corona can send news to subscribed residents via text messages and email. Notifications also can be accessed at Residents can register for free at that website or by texting coronapd to 888777.

The Twitter address is @coronapd. As of Dec. 3, the Police Department had 20 followers and was following 38 people.

Initially, the police will send mostly news and notices of police-related community events, Nelson said. At some point, detectives will send alerts requesting help in solving cases or finding missing people.

"Right now we want to push more information to the community … to show what we are doing," Nelson said.

Real-time alerts of police activity are farther into the future, Nelson said.

"Our staff doesn't have that presence 24/7," he said.

Residents should not use the Police Department's social media sites to report emergencies, Nelson said, as they are not continuously monitored. Crimes should be reported by calling 911, and non-emergency calls should go to 951-736-2330.

Copyright 2013 The Press Enterprise, Inc.

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