News Release News Release The City of Palo Alto
Communications Department
250 Hamilton Ave
Palo Alto, CA 94301


Subject :

Next “Virtual Ride-Along” Friday Night Is Part of Global Police Event
Contact : Zach Perron, Lieutenant, Police    650-329-2413
Palo Alto, CA -- The Palo Alto Police Department will be hosting its third "virtual ride-along" via Twitter this Friday night, but with a new twist this time:  we are participating in a simultaneous global law enforcement “Tweet-a-thon” involving more than 150 police agencies in 8 countries.

Starting at about 3 p.m. on Friday, March 22, 2013, and running until at least 2 a.m., Chief Dennis Burns will again get behind the wheel of a patrol car and hit the beat.  A member of our Public Information Officer team will be riding with him and live-tweeting calls for service, crimes in progress, arrests, vehicle accidents, and anything else that may come up during the course of the shift on the official Department Twitter account, @PaloAltoPolice.

The Global Police Tweet-a-thon is being organized by LAwS Communications.  Starting at 8 a.m. on March 22, police agencies around the world will tweet using the hashtag “#poltwt” to bring attention to the use of social media by law enforcement.  Agencies will be creating awareness about police work and issues police face, as well as promoting the use of social media in policing.  Agencies can join in for any part of the 24-hour period beginning at 8 a.m.  Here in Palo Alto, we will start our participation at 3 p.m. and use the event as a “virtual ride-along.”

"We are excited to bring together police agencies around the world in this first-of-its-kind social media event," said Lauri Stevens, founder of LAwS Communications and organizer of the Global Police Tweet-a-thon.  "We hope it sends the message to the public that their police officers are up to speed with social media, and that they can use these channels to talk with police officers and to be stewards of public safety."

For a list of participating police agencies, visit  For a Google map of those agencies, visit

Unlike the last two “virtual ride-alongs” that the Palo Alto Police Department has hosted, we will not be using the hashtag “#PAPDvra” this time, so as to focus on the global nature of this event.  We will use the hashtag “#poltwt” instead.  Twitter users can ask us questions during the ride-along by mentioning us, and we will answer questions as time allows.  We estimate sending between 100 and 250 tweets during the ride-along, depending on the volume of calls for service and the level of engagement with the public.

Last month, Chief Burns took the public with him on the beat for more than 13 hours in what is believed to have been the first Twitter “virtual ride-along” with a police chief in the United States.  Now, he is looking forward to spending another night out alongside his officers and the larger global law enforcement community as well.

“It makes sense for us to participate in this worldwide Twitter event.  Not only is Palo Alto the 'Birthplace of Silicon Valley,' but our city is also recognized worldwide as a leader in cutting-edge technological development and civic innovation,” said Chief Burns.  “We’re excited to share the realities of policing in Palo Alto with people around the globe.”

“Social media events like these help us connect with our community in an engaging and interactive way that allows open access to the real-life, day-to-day operations of a city,” said Palo Alto City Manager James Keene.  “This furthers one of our priorities for 2013: ‘Technology and the Connected City.’”

“This event falls right in line with that priority,” said Palo Alto Chief Information Officer Jonathan Reichental.  “The City of Palo Alto strives to be a leader with government use of new technology.  We want to create models for good government across the world whenever possible.”

The Palo Alto Police Department launched all of its social media platforms in March 2012.  Since then, our Twitter account has gained more than 2,900 followers and our Facebook page has gained more than 1700 “likes.”  Links to all of our social media platforms can be found at

Further information about the Global Police Tweet-a-thon can be obtained directly from Lauri Stevens of LAwS Communications at 978-764-9887 or