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Vt. State Troopers learn to tweet - WCAX.COM Local Vermont News, Weather and Sports-

Vt. State Troopers learn to tweet

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WILLISTON, Vt. -

From Iceland to Australia to right here at home, more than 100 law enforcement agencies from around the globe are taking to their phones and in-cruiser computers to tweet.

"This is far more active than we generally are," said Stephanie Dasaro, the public information officer for the Vermont State Police.

On Friday, the Vermont State Police more than doubled its daily tweets as part of a 24-hour global tweet-a-thon. The point is to raise awareness about police work while promoting law enforcement's use of social media. Typically, the state police Twitter feed is managed by a dispatcher and the public information officer. But that changed Friday morning when six troopers signed up to document their day with tweets.

Reporter Jennifer Reading: Did you ever imagine you would be required to tweet?

Sgt. Garry Scott: No... I didn't get a cellphone until I was 30-years-old and now I'm trying to figure this out.

For some, like Scott, this was their first social media experience. He described it as overwhelming, at least for the first few hours.

"It's scary to think about it but once you start doing it, it's not that bad," Scott said.

After a few Twitter faux pas he got the hang of it and his thumbs never slowed down, tweeting pictures of traffic stops and even our interview.

"The more we use it the more comfortable our members are going to be," Dasaro said.

Embracing social media is a major cultural shift for the department, but it's one that's supported by the colonel and command staff. Police say Facebook and Twitter have helped them solve crimes and locate missing people, but it's a balancing act.

"There's always a balance in law enforcement of how much we can give out, how much is too much," Dasaro said. "Our goal is not to undermine any of our investigations or put victims in a bad spot."

"Once it's out there, it's out there for good and you have to be careful about that," Scott said.

The Vermont State Police have a strategic goal of increasing its social media presence by 25 percent each year, for the next five years.

"People just see our cruisers out on the road and think we're just doing traffic stops or they only need us in time of crisis, but I think it goes to show that we're doing a lot during the day that you may not see," Dasaro said.

Taking the mystery out of police work 140 characters at a time.

Last week, state police reached 10,000 fans on Facebook. That's a 40 percent jump from the year before. And since the start of the tweet-a-thon, the troopers have over 200 new people following them on Twitter. If you would like to join the conversation, go to #poltwt on Twitter.

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