Connecting in 140 characters
P.E.I.’s RCMP commanding officer joins forces with active tweeter Const. Jamie Parsons and engages with public
When the RCMP’s top cop on P.E.I. decided to engage with the public on social media, she knew where to turn.
Chief Superintendent Joanne Crampton, commanding officer of the RCMP in P.E.I., hit the streets on Monday morning for a TweetALong with the one officer many Islanders on Twitter are familiar with, Const. Jamie Parsons.
Crampton says Parsons has been instrumental in helping the RCMP’s twitter account — @RCMPPEITraffic — get seven times more followers than originally hoped for.
When the national police force launched the account on Twitter two years ago, it had hoped to work up to 1,500 followers by now. As of Monday, the account had more than 11,800 followers. A variety of officers provide information on the account, from weather reports and road conditions to warnings that they are on the lookout for speeders and impaired drivers.
“They’ve done a great job,’’ Crampton said Monday morning in an interview with The Guardian during her ride-along with Parsons. “Jamie has really made it run and made it happen.’’
Parsons certainly seems to be the most active member of the force, and the most well known, on Twitter.
“I’d just like to be known as someone who loves their job, is passionate about it,’’ Parsons said. “That’s what I strive to do.’’
Parsons says he loves to pass along information to the travelling public, on and off duty. And bad weather doesn’t bother him one little bit. He loves being in the middle of a snowstorm, communicating what conditions are like so others are safe.
The ride-along was also a chance for Parsons and the commanding officer to communicate with the public. Normally, Parsons is on patrol and can’t respond to tweets. However, on Monday, he and Crampton were both able to answer questions posed by Island tweeters.
“What does the law say re: passing vehicles stopped at a red light on the inside/shoulder?’’ asked @l_wiilan.
“Every vehicle should remain in the proper lanes of travel until it’s safe to make a legal turn,’’ responded Crampton.
In addition, @noskcirderf wanted to know “how a driver should proceed when a major traffic light is flashing yellow during a power outage’’.
Crampton responded: “Good question. Flashing yellow means to proceed with caution. Flashing red means to stop’’.
Parsons, who hails from Newfoundland and Labrador, says he occasionally mixes in a little humour.
“I always have a smile on my face and I get a lot of positive feedback ( from the tweets). That makes me feel good.’’
Crampton said a healthy social media presence is vital for the RCMP.
“I think we’re really missing the mark if we’re not on Facebook and Twitter and whatever is trending on social media,’’ she said. “It’s where we should be in order to engage everybody.’’
Parsons stresses that the RCMP Twitter account is not monitored 24 hours a day. In the event of an actual emergency, people should always call 911.
When Chief Superintendent Joanne Crampton, commanding officer of the RCMP in P.E.I., wanted to learn the social media ropes she turned to the master, Const. Jamie Parsons. They not only patrolled together on Monday morning, both were engaging the public on Twitter, answering questions posed by other tweeters in the province.