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With new public information officer in place, Utica Police set up online presence

By JOLEEN FERRIS

UTICA, N.Y. (WKTV) - In an effort to get witnesses of crimes to sing like canaries, the Utica Police Department will soon start 'tweeting.'

The department is setting up Facebook and Twitter accounts, in order to quickly pass along important information to the public, familiarize people with its officers and the work they do and solve crimes. Utica Police Chief Mark Williams attended a social media seminar with other chiefs from around the state and found that Utica was one of the few cities of its size not taking advantage of social media.

"We can get that two-way communication right away and what they found was that by doing so, they were solving about 60% of these crimes where they'd normally be cold cases," says Williams.

"I think, you know, it's better to be there than not be there," says social media expert Ryan Miller, of Romanelli Communications.

"I think it's a great platform for people to put out information like traffic alerts-if there's an accident avoid this intersection or if there's issues with crowd control with an event or amber alerts or things like that anything that's public safety awareness that's a great, fast way to do it."

Utica Police are meeting with representatives of local media on Thursday to familiarize them with the department's new social media policies and introduce them to Sgt. Steve Hauck, who will not only be the department's administrator for Facebook and Twitter, but also their Public Information Officer, or, PIO-the person who handles all inquiries from the media.

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