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Social Media Helps Ocean Police Keep Residents Informed

 

 

coaster-newsBy RICHARD VIRGILIO

Due to the past few weeks of severe weather, Ocean Township residents are relying on social media platforms more than ever thanks to the police department’s email, text and tweet communication services.

The department has been leveraging two online platforms to alert residents about impending storms – Nixle, a subscription-based email and text service, and Twitter.

“We use both platforms to provide information to residents about emergencies, weather, traffic and crime,” said Ocean Township Police Chief Steve Peters. “Between Nixle and Twitter, residents can receive important information quickly in the way they prefer, on the device they use most.”

Residents who subscribe to the Nixle or Twitter alerts will receive all official press releases, traffic information, crime prevention tips, police advisories and severe weather information enhanced with current images. Both platforms are free of charge.

As every snowstorm approached this year, the department distributed daily weather advisories with links to National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) briefing packages. During and after the storms, the department sent alerts with photos about primary and secondary road conditions, real-time traffic updates, snow plowing efforts, rescheduled garbage pickup, parking restrictions and a road closure due to a cracked utility pole.

On Feb. 15, @OceanTwpPolice tweeted: “Road Report: The DPW is continuing plowing operations. Roads icy & slush will freeze overnight. Use caution while breaking.”

“I look out for the texts when I hear bad weather is coming; I rely on the texts now,” said Erin Riley, who signed-up for the Nixle alerts late last year. “It makes me feel more connected to what’s going on in my backyard since TV and radio speak general about this area.”

The alerts additionally support the department’s dedication to reducing crime and identify suspected criminals. In December, images were distributed of individuals suspected of shoplifting that turned into a robbery. Because of that alert, and top detective work, the suspects were identified and apprehended in approximately 24 hours. Information regarding suspects or crimes is always confidential and sources may choose to remain anonymous.

“We can speak directly and immediately to the community we serve, which is a top priority for us,” Peters said. “We all benefit from having more eyes on the street to prevent or thwart crime but residents should never take suspected criminal matters into their own hands.”

Nixle was launched by the Ocean Township Police Department in 2012. The Twitter feed for residents was created in 2013 to supplement the Nixle communications. The township’s Social Media Officer, Lieutenant Timothy Torchia is the primary content manager for both platforms. Public Information Officer Detective Lieutenant Kevin Faller writes the press releases regarding suspected criminal activity.

“Law enforcement, in general, was reluctant to embrace social media,” said Chief Peters. “Now, for this department, we see it as a valuable way to relay important information and publicize the positive things we do in the community.”

To sign up for the Nixle or Twitter alerts, log on to the department’s homepage OceanTwp.org/police and click on the links at the bottom of the banner on the right side of the page.

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