Vail police taking to social media
VAIL — A meeting room at Vail police headquarters had the look recently of three teenage friends at a coffee shops — a bit of talk and even more device-staring.
The occasion was the Vail Police Department’s first-ever social media chat. Attending were Cmdr. Daric Harvey, dispatch supervisor Jennifer Kirkland and a Vail Daily reporter.
The initial question-and-answer session was quiet — the reporter asked a few questions, and Harvey and Kirkland had a few prepared questions of their own. Despite the relative silence on the department’s Facebook and Twitter accounts, Harvey and Kirkland said the social media outreach will continue.
GETTING TO KNOW THE DEPARTMENT
The department is a fairly active social media participant, with officers and dispatchers posting almost daily with crime prevention tips or re-tweets from Eagle County’s alert system.
The question-and-answer sessions are a way to expand that presence, something that’s worked well in other cities.
“We found places that got feedback from people that they wouldn’t get otherwise,” Kirkland said. “This is an opportunity to get to know us and ask questions.”
Kirkland said the department would like to conduct the social media sessions at least once a month. Regularly scheduled events will likely be in the early evenings, so perhaps more people can participate.
Harvey noted that the Vail police already have several community-outreach programs, including coffee sessions and community picnics. Going to Facebook and Twitter is a way to perhaps communicate with more people in the community.
Which gets us back to three people in a room using their gadgets instead of talking.
From the reporter came questions about where marijuana use is legal in town, as well as the number of security cameras in use in the resort areas.
CAMERA USE IN VAIL
While most cameras will stay on after the 2015 Alpine World Ski Championships, a few — cameras at interstate interchanges that can read motorists’ license plates — will go away.
The plate-reading cameras along the interstate came from the FBI, Harvey said, in case officials issue a “be on the lookout” alert for a specific vehicle. After the Championships, Harvey said those cameras will be taken out and used elsewhere.
Plate-reading cameras in the town’s parking structures will remain, though, since one use of those devices is to help prevent “looping” through the structures to avoid paying parking fees.
From Harvey and Kirkland came questions about how to request police records, as well as one about the “craziest” — as opposed to most tragic — incident in the department’s nearly 50-year history.
That story came from 1968, when Ted Holmes, the town’s police chief, was taken hostage as part of a crime wave across Utah and Western Colorado. Holmes was found handcuffed to a tree on Vail Pass, and the criminals were soon arrested near Colorado Springs.
Kirkland said the social media sessions are supposed to be informative, perhaps fun and, ultimately, get more people following the department’s social media pages.
“That way, when we do have a crisis, we can reach out more effectively,” she said.
Vail Daily Business Editor Scott Miller can be reached at 970-748-2930, email@example.com and @scottnmiller.