Mike Phibbs, of Richmond police, suggests an almost embarrassingly simple way of connecting beat officers with the communities they serve.
For the non-twitter-literate: A hashtag is a tag embedded in a message posted on the Twitter microblogging service, consisting of a word within the message prefixed with a hash sign, for example: “#usopentennis”. The hash (“#”) indicates that what follows is a searchable tag that indicates the subject of the message.
Phibbs writes, “Twitter could be used to connect citizens with the beat officers 140 characters at a time. By using the hash tag #Your Neighborhoods Name Here anyone can be instantly alerted to suspicious activities in the area. People can tweet a picture of the activity to officers, dispatchers and the rest of the community. The technologies allow everyone to be a crime fighter in their own way, as part of a neighbor action team or an individual who simply wants to improve their neighborhood.”