Campus police conduct virtual ride-along

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Dec. 4, 2013

More than 170 police departments take part in nationwide program

By Lucas Wimmer

Sophomore James Sheets distracted himself from studying by browsing Facebook on Nov. 1, when he noticed the UW-Whitewater Campus Police Facebook page posted that it would be live-tweeting their encounters from 7 to 11 p.m.

Sheets then went to his Twitter account and followed the UW-Whitewater Campus Police account, and he said he enjoyed what he saw.

“I was excited, because back home there are a couple people that use the scanner to tweet about what’s going on in the whole county, so it’s pretty cool to see that down here, too,” Sheets said.Hanekamp

The UW-Whitewater Campus Police Department was participating in a National Tweet Along, Officer Sean Hanekamp said.

More than 170 police agencies across the United States were involved, Hanekamp said.

During the four hours this program ran, Hanekamp posted all encounters with students through the police department Twitter account to give the experience of a virtual ride-along, Hanekamp said.

Hanekamp and Officer Kelsey Kersten rode together. Kersten drove the pair to their calls and responded to scanner calls, while Hanekamp tweeted.Kersten

Hanekamp said the Tweet Along created a lot of interaction, and the Twitter account gained 33 followers just during the night of tweeting.  Since the event, the police department’s Twitter account has gained about 70 to 80 followers.

Interaction with students was not just limited to the Internet that night.

Hanekamp said they spent time with students in the residence halls. These interactions sometimes involved the officers taking a picture with the students and posting it to their Twitter after informing the students of the live-tweeting.

Kersten said it was convenient that the weekend fell on the same weekend as Halloween and Homecoming, so there was a lot of police activity.

“It worked out perfectly for us to show what we actually do as opposed to the misconceptions of what we do as a police department,” Kersten said.

Many people hold misconceptions that the campus police are out to ticket and arrest as many students as possible, but this is not the case, Hanekamp said.

“We’re trying to show them we’re human beings as well, not just always hardcore and writing tickets,” Hanekamp said.

Students can follow campus police department at @UWWPS, or can like them on Facebook at facebook.com/UWWPolice.