Support swells for Edmonton Police tweeter
Edmonton’s Twitter community has thrown their support behind an Edmonton police officer after he tweeted a photo showing a view down the barrel of a gun at scene of a standoff.
The photo was tweeted by Const. Brendan Power last Saturday, after the standoff had ended.
“This was how I spent my morning. Waiting to be released from an Armed ‘Standoff’ that was resolved peacefully,”the tweet read.
The photo included in the tweet had raised some eyebrows about whether it was an appropriate photo for an officer to be taking and posting.
After a story aired on CTV News on Thursday, the constable received an outpouring of support from the Twitter community. Some of those support messages include:
“I applaud not only how open @CstPower has been on Twitter, but how he has done all he can to improve #EPS image in #yeg,” tweeted @KikkiPlanet.
“Please show YEG support for @CstPower. A strong community voice, critical in a diverse, rich community like YEG. Need Cst Power's tweets!” posted @MarkCherrington.
“I think it would do us all some good to see what a day is like for a police officer! Thank you for keeping us safe! #CstPower,” wrote @JenWatsonBray.
Tony Simioni, the head of the Edmonton Police Association told CTV News on Thursday the photo showed a realistic situation faced by Edmonton police officers.
“Whether it’s considered distasteful or not, it’s part of our reality. I’m going to have to emphasize the fact that he also emphasized that he’s thankful it ended peacefully," Simioni said.
“Some of the things that we do in this job, and that recruits or prospective recruits need to know, is exactly what he showed. We’re not glorifying that part of it."
Edmonton Police Service officers began using Twitter in 2009 as a recruitment tool and a way to build community relations.
Cst. Power is one of six tweeting constables who share their day-to-day perspective on the social networking website. Power is the most followed Twitter cop, with more than 3,000 followers and more than 6,000 posts.
Carolin Maran, the EPS' social media co-ordinator says allowing officers to tweet can be risky but they are trained in what they can or cannot say about an investigation or call.
"That's their primary limit. Past that point we leave it up to them. We do want them to show their personality a little bit and give insight," Maran said.
"It's new territory, we do still learn as we go our policy for that reason is fluid and constantly changing it's not set in stone because we realize the technology changes and people's expectations of us change."
The EPS said Power's tweet did not violate the social media policy.
Late Thursday afternoon, Cst. Power posted the following message to Twitter:
“My voluntary participation in this project has been primarily on my own time, and as such, this is not worth the headache. I will continue to try and answer your police / recruiting questions in addition to posting #JoinEPS or EPS releases. I sincerely thank all of you for your participation and support over the last 2 years. Please continue it with our other Twitter members. I hope I've accomplished what I came here to do, which was inspire people to become Police Officers & educate you on what we do. Thanks all.”
Many of the comments made on Twitter questioned why CTV News chose to pursue the story. Director of News and Public Affairs, Dan Kobe said:
"As a media organization it’s our job to ask questions and initiate discussion on various topics. Officers sharing their daily experiences through social media is relatively new. We thought it was important to ask what the guidelines are in place for officers and what the Police Service hopes to achieve through the Twitter program," Kobe said.
"We also wanted to know if this is something the public supports. We asked for feedback and clearly from the comments made on Twitter, Edmontonians want to read about and see the day-to-day situations faced by officers, and we think that’s a positive thing."
"He (Const. Power)'s obviously very popular and no one wanted to see him not tweeting anymore and neither do we," Kobe said.
On Friday morning, a message was posted from the Edmonton Police Service’s official account, saying:
“The #EPS trusts and supports all of its tweeters, including @CstPower, and we appreciate their dedication to their work - on and off Twitter. Although we will miss @CstPower's valuable insight into policing, the #EPS respects his decision to limit his tweets. Thx @CstPower and #yeg for your support for our Twitter initiative."
Local social media consultant Walter Schwabe says he's not surprised by the support for Const. Power.
"This wasn't as shocking to the majority. I think it was the minority that looked at that and said I think you might be glorifying the weapon itself, and that was not the intent," Schwabe said.
Schwabe has been keeping a close eye on Twitter since Thursday. He says the discussion should only help broaden awareness of the police program.
"I think that they should continue with that, I think Const. Power should continue, and the entire organization is definitely on the right track."
Power has said in a Twitter post that he “is not handing in the Twitter badge yet or being 'bullied off.'"
The Edmonton Police Service tell CTV News it's thrilled with the support that has come out for Power and say he will return to his Twitter followers after a short break.
With files from Amanda Anderson