Police Captain Uses Twitter to Reach Out To Community

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LINCOLN, Neb. -- Many people today are glued to their cell phones and other electronic devices all the time.

So, one Lincoln police captain said that's exactly where he's trying to reach the people he's trying to protect.

Capt. Martin Fehringer thinks Twitter could allow LPD to follow up on crimes, interact with citizens and acknowledge good police work.

"The thing I like about Twitter," Capt. Fehringer said, "is it's forced to you, and it's short and sweet.

"People aren't going to get bored with it. You're limited by the amount of characters you can use."

Capt. Fehringer is the captain for the Southeast District in Lincoln.

He's tweeting out photos of criminals and criminal trends. For example, one of his first posts was pictures of a vehicle believed to be involved in a recent arson.

"If you can reach a few more people," Capt. Fehringer said, "if you can solve a few more crimes, that alone would be good."

Tom Casady, the Public Safety Director, has been using Twitter in a similar fashion for months.

"I think it humanizes my job quite a bit," Casady said, "when people start reading my tweets or my blog posts, they realize I'm a real person and am an actual person with a real personality.

"Sometimes a little goofy, and I think that's a good thing."

But, Casady and Capt. Fehringer said they don't want followers tweeting them sensitive information. Instead, they believe that information is valuable being delivered through an outlet like Crimestoppers, so that it can be put in an official report.

"People will start telling you about crimes," Casady said.

"It's not a good way to take that information in."

Casady and Capt. Fehringer said they want Twitter to act as just one more tool for being connected.

"I think if it's successful and we can show that there is value," Capt. Fehringer said, "then I can see other people doing it down the road."