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


Subject :

Police Chief Kicks Off Holiday “Avoid the 13” Period via Twitter
Contact : Zach Perron, Lieutenant, Police Department    650-329-2413
Palo Alto, CA -- Chief Dennis Burns will be out to locate and arrest impaired drivers Friday night, and he will be bringing the public along with him on a "virtual ride-along" via Twitter as the Palo Alto Police Department kicks off its annual participation in the county-wide “Avoid the 13” DUI Crackdown.

Starting at 6 p.m. on Friday, December 13, 2013, and running until at least 2 a.m., Chief Burns will get behind the wheel of a DUI patrol car to target impaired drivers.  A member of our Public Information Officer team will be riding with him and live-tweeting his activities on the official Department Twitter account, @PaloAltoPolice.

The “Avoid the 13” DUI Crackdown seeks to publicize the combined DUI enforcement efforts of the 13 police agencies in Santa Clara County in order to save lives, get impaired drivers off the road, and raise the public's awareness of the tragic consequences of impaired driving.  This year’s “Avoid the 13” enforcement period starts at 12:01 a.m. on December 13 and runs through 11:59 p.m. on January 1, 2014.

Other California counties are hosting similar “Avoid” campaigns, and other Bay Area police agencies are also conducting their own Twitter “virtual ride-alongs” on Friday night.  Twitter users can follow our joint hashtag for the night of #BayAreaDUI and follow the San Mateo Police Department (@SanMateoPD), the Fremont Police Department (@FremontPD), and the Daly City Police Department (@DalyCityPD).  These agencies are all part of the Bay Area Law Enforcement Social Media Group (BALESMG), a group that meets regularly to discuss best practices for using social media as a way to engage their communities and to better leverage the technology for crisis communications.

This will be the seventh “virtual ride-along” via Twitter that the Palo Alto Police Department has conducted in the past year, and the second one with a DUI focus.  Others have focused on a patrol officer, our Traffic Team and our 24-hour dispatch center.  For Friday night’s event, we estimate sending between 100 and 200 tweets during the eight-hour ride-along.  Some tweets will include educational information and facts about impaired driving.

Chief Burns began his career as an officer with the Palo Alto Police Department in 1982.  Since then, he has held every rank and has worked virtually every assignment within the Department.  He became the interim Police Chief in December 2008, and was named the Police Chief in September 2009.  He commands an agency with 161 personnel and an annual budget of over $30 million.  He also served as the interim chief of the Palo Alto Fire Department from July 2010 to December 2012.  He is the current president of the Santa Clara County Police Chiefs’ Association.

The Palo Alto Police Department launched its social media program in March 2012.  Since then, our Twitter account has gained more than 5,400 followers and our Facebook page has gained more than 5,300 “likes.”  We are also on Nextdoor and Nixle.  Links to all of our social media platforms can be found at