Woodstock Police Twitter: A Closer Look

Woodstock Early Bird has been following up on several incidents in the Village and Town which has led her to the only source of information: Woodstock PD’s “Twitter” feed. The officers on duty are not required to update the feed real-time (which is the point of Twitter) but, it is our understanding that one officer “updates” the feed once a week.

Once again, Woodstock Early Bird is getting on the case here that citizens are not getting timely or adequate information about what may or may not be going on in their town.  Here are a few examples from the past week:

1. Apparently there was a residential burglary on Saturday, June 2nd. It was not reported on a Twitter feed until three days later with a suggestion to residents to keep homes and vehicle doors locked. Would it not be important to let folks know as soon as possible that there is someone “out there” of whom they should be aware and on the “look-out” for?

2. In trying to find information about the incident at the Prince and Pauper, we see that on Saturday, June 2nd, “Officer Assisted Ambulance”.  Nothing more. Where did this happen? What time did this happen? How many people were transported (if any)?  These are the basics of information of which we have the right to be informed.  Woodstock Early Bird has learned there are no laws that require police to issue press releases so, yes, on one level, they are “good” with a three-days late Twitter report of “officer assisted ambulance”.  However, if asked, they are required to provide information to the public.  Is this “less is more” approach to keeping the public informed really what we want?

3. According to the June 5th “updated” Twitter report, on Friday, June 1st, “Several officers and liquor control responded to an underage party”.  Where? How many people were involved? Were any juveniles actually found to be drinking or drunk?  Woodstock Early Bird has a report from a very upset parent who was called at 2:00 in the morning to “Come pick up  your kid…he’s been drinking.”  Upon finding the location of the party, the parents were treated rudely by police and liquor control. The juvenile, who said he had not been drinking,  demanded to “blow” for a sobriety test to which he came up ZERO. The “kid” had not had anything to drink. Police and liquor control had simply run every plate in the area and called the parents assuming guilt of one and all. What are/were the actual statistics on this incident?

4 responses to this post.

  1. Posted by Keri on June 8, 2012 at 13:30

    Somehow I’m not surprised by any of this.


  2. I have written to the Woodstock Police Department on a previous occassion to ask why they “batch” their tweets on a weekly basis. To date, no one has responded to my letter. I can accept the fact that the Village Police were not born into a world of social networking, but that is the world we live in today. I find it odd that this department of our local government uses Twitter, but not in the way it was intended. In my letter, I asked if there was a reason the police dispatcher could not tweet an event in real time. That would seem to make their use of Twitter a lot more useful. RIght EB?

    WEB Reply:

    We have had some answers from WPD on this topic which we are willing – up to a point – to understand. Officers or dispatchers are too busy to write or issue these reports. They claim to be understaffed and so therefore cannot make time – the way VSP does – to issue timely releases.

    Still …. when WEB has tried to wave or get the attention of some of the newer/younger officers sitting “watch” on the Village Green in recent weeks, they seem incapable of looking up from their laps where they are clearly texting about something to someone on their phones. Yup, could be work related…but the point is…As we all know it takes about two minutes – max – to write and send any Twitter report. These guys are all dialed-in. VSP has the reports sent to a supervisor who approves and posts. It could be a very good communications tool with the public for WPD – if used as it is meant to be used!



  3. Posted by Maury Lorenz on June 8, 2012 at 20:36

    So, if an officer tweets at all, he should tweet as soon as he catches his breath after a chase, with names and addresses, whether all facts are known or not.


  4. Posted by Lynn St. James on June 11, 2012 at 09:09

    First and foremost I appreciate and fully support WEB’s reporting of Woodstock area news; however, for the readers, I have a couple of things…

    Most police departments do not voice all that they do like Woodstock Police does, the send out press releases for significant incidences through a Public Information Officer within their department.

    I do agree that Chief Blish needs to more attentive in providing the public with timely information, especially that which concerns our wellbeing and safety. The onus to provide the “news” is on Cheif Blish – not the Patrol Officer on duty. I don’t see that anyone has asked Chief Blish for a copy of the WPD policy on public information dissemenation?

    Juvenile information in VT is also concidered “private” and Police are REQUIRED to keep that information secure. So if you want to know what Mr. and Mrs. So-and-so’s kid did – go ask them. And I am sure they aren’t impressed that they had to go pick up their child from an enviorment that law enformcement didn’t think was appropriate.

    For those asking about what was the ambulance doing? YOU WILL NOT KNOW UNLESS YOU DIRECTLY ASK THE PATIENT! HIPAA laws prohibit disclosure of any information surrounding patient care. For more information see http://www.hhs.gov/ocr/privacy/hipaa/understanding/index.html. And really, if you fell on your tookus, would you want it broadcasted over the internet or on the front page?

    I guess my point is – before you jump to running your thoughts over the internet, make sure you know what you are speaking about.


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