FutureFive NZ - Overwhelming response to virtual Twitter patrol

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Overwhelming response to virtual Twitter patrol

Nearly 45,000 people took to Twitter to follow police on a virtual ride-along in the Bay of Plenty on New Year's Eve.

Running from 7pm to 2am, police say the patrol provided a real time snapshot of policing across Western Bay as well as advice to encourage safe celebrations.

The most retweeted event of the night was a car which struck a house, knocked down a tree and landed on its roof in Papamoa. Miraculously the driver and his passenger walked away with relatively minor injuries. Alcohol is believed to have been a factor.

The majority of the other incidents attended by the 'Tweet Beat' were alcohol-related such as drink-driving and disorder.

"It was a first for us so we had no idea how much interest we would get and were quite amazed by the response," says Clifford Paxton, Area Commander inspector.

"Throughout the entire shift we received a constant flow of messages commenting on the patrol and showing their support for the policing operation.

"Policing can be a thankless task so it was good for the staff who were working last night to hear the positive feedback from the Twitter community."

Tweets came from as far afield as the Netherlands but some were clearly local with comments such as 'we have the coolest police in the country', while others simply acknowledged the tough job that the police have such as 'you guys are brilliant, brave AS'.

"Tonight has proved how useful a tool social media can be for communication and we would certainly consider more virtual patrols in the future," Paxton says.

Although the Twitter team were kept busy throughout the shift, Police are praising the behaviour of the majority of the public across the Bay of Plenty District.

"Yet again the Bay of Plenty has proved to be a fantastic place for families to see in the New Year," says Scott Fraser. Prevention Manager inspector.

"Most of the revellers were in great spirits and looking out for another.

"As always we were disappointed that there were small groups of people who let themselves down. Not only does it concern us that nearly all of the incidents we had to deal were alcohol-related, a significant number involved unsupervised youngsters.

"There were way too many teenagers who had access to alcohol and were intoxicated to the point where they placed themselves at risk."

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