Police to help manage Canada Day crowds via social media channels

Civilians without a lick of police training can help officers keep the peace in downtown Victoria on Canada Day, by staying alert and keeping their smartphones at the ready.

For the first time, Canada Day party-goers are invited to send in concerns or questions, tips about alcohol-related incidents and minor trouble in progress, such as acts of vandalism, to police via social media.

A Victoria police officer will be monitoring messages posted on Twitter with the hashtag #vicpdhelps, on July 1 only.

Emergencies should still be reported by calling 911, but the Twitter hashtag could be used “if you’re out and about and see something that police need to know about,” said Const. Mike Russell, who developed the innovative policing approach.

The department is believed to be the first in Canada to proactively try address incidents during a large public celebration via Twitter, a social media channel that people use to instantly send out 140-character messages.

“It’s usually things like, ‘Hey, there’s a guy that’s passed out drunk beside me,’ or ‘Hey I see a guy that’s bootlegging for people at this liquor store,'” said Russell.

Last year, social media tips allowed police to stop adults who were buying booze for minors from liquor stores in James Bay.

Chances are good that social media users will be able to alert police to incidents in the making. Last July 1, 128,000 people viewed the department’s Twitter feeds, Youtube videos and Facebook posts.

This latest initiative allows the department to proactively build upon that connection, helping ensure the party stays family friendly when more than 40,000 people converge on the provincial capital Sunday.

“I thought there has to be growth in what you do otherwise you just become stale,” Russell said of the #vicpdhelps idea.

“Because Canada Day is such a busy day for our department, we’re mobilizing every communication strategy and that’s why this #vicpdhelps is for Canada Day only.”

emccracken@vicnews.com

Be in the know:

Follow the Victoria Police Department online at www.facebook.com/victoriapolicedepartment, on Twitter.com @vicpdcanada and on youtube.com/vicpdcanada. You can also keep up to date on the latest Canada Day news in Victoria by following tweets with the #yyjcanadaday hashtag.

Canada Day was VicPD’s busiest night of 2011:

Calls for service: There were 264 calls Canada Day night, compared to 150 calls typically received in a 24-hour period.

Crowds: almost 35,000

Kept in police jail cells overnight: 85 people

Arrested for public intoxication: 80, including 22 from Saanich and 15 from the West Shore

 

Police safety tips for Canada Day:

Don’t bring liquor downtown

Plan a safe way home, in light of road closures and parking limitations

Fireworks without a permit are banned

 

Just Posted

Western Speedway racing legend ‘The Flying Plumber’ turns 98

Dave Cooper recalls car crashes, his first win, and more

Second puppy killed by poisonous mushrooms in Victoria

Springer spaniel puppy died after consuming mushrooms in Fairfield neighbourhood

Driver charged in Central Saanich pedestrian’s death appears in court

Victim Kim Ward, 51, died on scene at the August 2018 crash

Langford homeowner helps West Shore RCMP catch car thief

The homeowner grabbed the suspect until the police arrived moments later

Nuisance tree will remain on perimeter of Fireman’s Park

Council re-affirm pledge to protecting healthy tree canopy

WATCH: Greater Victoria’s top stories of the day

A round-up of the day’s top stories

POLL: Do you think the day of the federal election should be a statutory holiday?

Increasing voter turnout has long been a goal of officials across the… Continue reading

Fatal overdoses down by 33% in B.C., but carfentanil deaths continue to spike

Carfentanil, an illicit drug more powerful than fentanyl, causing more deaths than ever

Two RCMP vehicles vandalized in Duncan over long weekend

Local Mounties asking for help in finding culprits

A year after pot legalization in Canada, it’s a slow roll

It’s one year into Canada’s experiment in legal marijuana, and hundreds of legal pot shops have opened

ELECTION 2019: Climate strikes push environment to top of mind for federal leaders

Black Press Media presents a three-part series on three big election issues

Tickets available for Greater Victoria Sports Hall of Fame dinner and induction

Ryan Cochrane, Mike Piechnick and Rob Short among the inductees

Most Read