Con­nect­ing in 140 char­ac­ters

P.E.I.’s RCMP com­mand­ing of­fi­cer joins forces with ac­tive tweeter Const. Jamie Par­sons and en­gages with pub­lic

The Guardian (Charlottetown) - - FRONT PAGE - BY DAVE STE­WART

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.

HEATHER TAWEEL/THE GUARDIAN

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.

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