One of L.A.’s most influential law enforcement figures has entered the Twitter-sphere.
“I am entering the world of social media today with my own blog,” Los Angeles Sheriff Lee Baca tweeted Monday evening with a link to his new blog site.
That was actually his second tweet. His debut tweet, a salute to his deputies and staff, came five days ago.
Baca's Twitter arrival comes long after members of the department's media relations staff began sending out "tweets." Law enforcement agencies around California are among the busiest Twitter participants.
“It’s a reflection of our times,” said Sheriff spokesman Steve Whitmore.
Whitmore said it was Baca’s idea to start writing a blog and link it to Twitter as a way to directly communicate with the public.
Baca’s first blog post was a broad-brush introduction. He discussed what the department does, how big it is and who’s involved.
I will be attempting to share with you the Los Angeles County Sheriff Department's successes as well as our challenges. This will not be about me, but about the incredible men and women who comprise the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department.
“It allows him to directly communicate in his own words what he considers to be important without any filter whatsoever,” Whitmore said.
The content of the blog will be written by Baca himself and then posted on the website by his staff.
As for the tweets: Whitemore said the staff will send them but Baca will compose the message, probably in the form of an email. It'll be up to the staff to fit that into 140 characters.
Whitmore said Sheriff Baca is abreast of what Twitter is. As for actually logging into the website or getting fancy with TweetDeck, Whitmore’s not sure about that. But he said Sheriff Baca does have a smartphone on him.
When asked why start now and not years before, Whitmore said he believes social media has exploded over the last year or so law enforcement agencies.
The Sheriff’s Department has struggled with grim publicity over the last year—from deputy abuse of inmates in the county jails, to off-duty deputies behaving badly, to accusations of department nepotism.
With Baca now on social media, he's bound to get a few questions or comments with a bite to them. Whitemore said the Sheriff knows that.
“If he gets a question that he thinks needs to be answered, he’s going to answer it, whether it be critical or not,” Whitmore said.
With only two tweets as of Tuesday, Baca already has earned himself more than 300 followers on Twitter. Who knows how often he’ll be tweeting or writing on his blog, but on his blog post he said it’ll be “from time to time.”