The Dallas Police Department officially unveiled plans this week to encourage officers to tweet more, as part of a wider social-media strategy that includes beefing up the department's blog and Facebook page and posting more photos on Pinterest.
We welcome the DPD's expanded entry into the highly competitive world of new media, mainly because misery loves company, but also for what having more cops on Twitter will mean for us: gaffes. The single best feature of Twitter is how it ensnares people into embarrassing themselves in 140 characters.
Eighty officers have signed up for a one-day training program on social-media use. Expect more on Twitter soon, cops say. That many people with thumbs flying make it a statistical lock that someone soon will say something they wish they hadn't or send an inappropriate photo, and that's red meat to those in media old-school and new.
How many smart, useful tweets can you recall? Meanwhile, a day doesn't pass without some poor chump deleting an insensitive Tweet, then deleting his entire account, then spending the afternoon wishing he could temporarily delete himself. Chief David Brown should know this. "I don't care for being called an asshole and cocksucker though by the Belo folks," he tweeted from his @DPDChief account in January, which is a perfectly understandable sentiment, but he still ended up apologizing. Meanwhile, Brown's tweets urging us all to "stay vigilant" and congratulating "Great work by Dallas PD detectives" are lost in the ether.
@sgoldstein I don't care for being called an asshole and cocksucker though by the Belo folks— Chief David O. Brown (@DPDChief) January 4, 2014
Maybe we're just jealous. Part of the department's plan is to improve its blog at dpdbeat.com. It's pretty dull reading at the moment, but they're sitting on an untapped pageview gusher. All they have to do is ditch the pedestrian posts and dig into some of the top-flight click bait that only cops have access to -- wacky dash-cam videos, goofy mug shots, bloody crime-scene photos, insider reports from virtually anything the vice department does and anything to do with lovable and/or abused animals. Oh, how the people will click.
And lists! Drunks of the week. Top 10 prostitute arrests. A heat map of the city's best drug-selling spots. Crime news is entertainment, guys. Sell it and the advertising riches follow. That means more officers. Bigger pay. New phones to Tweet with.
That's the dream, anyway. Let us know how it works out. Media are literally dying to know.