Plenty of government agencies are dipping their toes into the Twitter waters these days, but when we found the Denton Police Department's Twitter page this afternoon, we knew we'd found something truly special.
With automated posts for everyone booked at the jail since Sunday night, the feed comes complete with a person's mug shot, age and what they were booked for. It's enough to make us forget all about Craigslist's Missed Connections.
Clicking through the mug shots on TwitPic is like strolling through a portrait exhibit on resignation and regret. It's a remarkable leap in open government and connecting to the community.
Funny thing: Denton police had no idea about it.
(Update: This item has since been updated, as we've got an interview with the man behind the curtain, Brian Baugh, over here.)
"If we get onto Twitter, this isn't the way we want to be using it," says spokesman Ryan Grelle, who tells Unfair Park the information on the Twitter page is probably being pulled from their online Jail Custody Report -- a page that includes names and the bond amount, which aren't on the Twitter feed.
The bio listed on the Twitter page lends some credence to the conceptual-art notion:
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The unofficial Denton Police Department twitter for Denton, Texas. Programmed by a UNT art photography student, pointing out the amount of public info out there.
The police department has been looking at getting involved in Twitter, Grelle said, and while they have a MySpace page, "it hasn't been updated in months." He's more interested in using social media to enlist the public's help in crime-solving. "Say we had a murder, and we had some video -- almost like putting out press releases and asking, 'Have you seen this suspect?' That's what we're looking to use it for, not to put people's pictures up and have the whole world see they were arrested for forgery," he said.
That may be true, especially because this other guy they arrested for public urination looks way more entertaining.