Following police activity on radio scanners is a hobby with a long tradition. There are groups around the country devoted to this time-consuming hobby that allows residents of a community learn just what kind of untoward activity is happening in their neighborhoods. But the hobby has entered a new age with the arrival of social media websites like Twitter.
Scanner enthusiasts now don’t just sit and wait for the hiss of the radio to bleat out a robbery or assault – when police activity occurs, they report, tweet and re-tweet what they’ve heard, in essence giving real time, real crime updates.
The Los Angeles area alone has at least three active monitoring organizations on Twitter and a web based group called the Southern California Monitoring Association ties the whole thing together. Their motto: “In God We Trust – All Others We Monitor.”
How can Twitter change the way people learn about crime? How can up-to-the second, crowdsourced crime reporting become a deterrent?
Alex Thompson, police scanner enthusiast who started ‘venice311’ - a website and Twitter feed that follows local crime in Venice, CA in real time