Just call them the tweet patrol.
NYPD Commissioner William Bratton selected five police precincts, including the 106th and the 112th in Queens, to be part of a pilot program allowing commanding officers to set up Twitter accounts in an effort to reach residents in a new, more technologically advanced, way.
While police have long monitored Twitter to fight crime – criminals are notorious for boasting of their various ill deeds on the social media platform – the precincts have not had their own Twitter accounts. If the pilot program is successful, it could be expanded to precincts across the city.
Both leaders of South Queens’ 106th and the 112th, which covers neighborhoods in central Queens, have been busy using their Twitter accounts, with Deputy Inspector Jeffrey Schiff tweeting, “I’M BACK!” in his first message.
“After a year’s hiatus yours truly will b tweeting once again!” he exclaimed via that first tweet. “Follow me & my brethren 2 get the local flavor of your neighborhood!”
Schiff has previously gotten in hot water because of Twitter, and he disabled his account last April, while working in Brooklyn’s 76th Precinct, after he was criticized for tweeting in 2011 about two career criminals being released from prison.
Schiff’s return to Twitter seemed to be embraced, with a number of people issuing him welcome back messages, as well as his first tweet being “favorited” by Assemblyman Phil Goldfeder and Rachel Noerdlinger, who is chief of staff to Mayor Bill de Blasio’s wife, Chirlane McCray.
“Nice to see you on Twitter (again)!!” Steve Weiss, the director of research for a nonprofit dedicated to slain officers, The Officer down Memorial Page, tweeted.
“Vindication is soooo sweet!” Schiff replied to Weiss.
Since the first day of tweeting on April 15, Schiff has gone on to relay information about various community meetings and other crime prevention information.
Along with the 106th and the 112th, the 25th and 83rd precincts are part of the pilot program, as is the Police Service Area 6, which covers housing developments in Harlem.
By Anna Gustafson