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Police To Use Twitter, Texting To Communicate With Residents

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CHICAGO (CBS) – Chicago Police Supt. Garry McCarthy has unveiled some technological additions designed to improve the department’s communication with the community.

WBBM Newsradio’s Bernie Tafoya reports tweeting and texting are big parts of the new features for the CPD and the Chicago Alternative Policing Strategy.

Residents will be able to text anonymous crime tips to police by sending a message to the number 274637 (CRIMES), and starting the message with the letters CPD.

Anyone who calls 911 and has a picture of a crime scene can get a text message from a 911 operator, so he or she can send a photo by return message. The aim is to give police officers a better idea of what the scene looks like before they arrive.

Three police districts will try out a new Twitter program. CAPS workers in the 7th (@ChicagoCAPS07), 11th (@ChicagoCAPS11), and 18th (@ChicagoCAPS18) districts will use Twitter to share information about crime, beat meetings, business and community alerts, and missing person cases in the district.

McCarthy said the use of Twitter to provide information to and get information from the public works well in Boston, and elsewhere.

“During the Boston [Marathon] bombing, the social media use that the Boston Police Department was using to contact the public to put out information was very, very strong,” he said.

The program eventually will be expanded citywide.

Police also will allow online participation in CAPS beat meetings, so residents can ask questions from home or work if they can’t attend a beat meeting in person.

The Reverend Jesse Jackson, who’s leading the 42nd annual Rainbow/PUSH convention this week, says the city needs to go beyond technology to stop violence.

“The violence – to stop it you need more than talk.”

Reverend Jackson says you put out fire with water.

“In this case, jobs and access is water. If you’re trapped without public transportation… you’re trapped with 81,000 vacant homes that are abandoned lots. You’re trapped with 40 percent unemployment. Those are very desperate conditions.”

Jackson says those issues need to be addressed to stop violence.

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