When you join police officers, social media, the public and ideas together on Twitter you have #copchat. The Twitter group meets every Wednesday night at 9 p.m. EDT to discuss a variety of topics.
Today at Toronto Police Headquarters Burrows took time to explain what the chat is all about and how it's not a Toronto Police initiative.
About a year ago Tim Burrows, social media supervisor for the Corporate Communications section and Christa M. Miller who specializes in public relations, writing and editing for the law enforcement and digital forensics communities started talking about joining together for chats on Twitter with the community at large. The two wanted to find a way to educate and engage the public and cops using social media.
When the Occupy Movement set up shop Burrows noted that the most effective and non-violent actions came when communiciation was open.
"Occupy was really a driver for today's #copchats. I watched how when great dialogue was going on there was mininium confination," Burrows said excitedly, his love of the social network medium evident.
"Christa and I saw that the chats would be a great way to get cops and the community communicating about important topics," Burrows said.
Those chats have been a learning process for the man behind them. When asked what he has learned Burrows said that often you don't see a problem until it's pointed out. "With the dialogues we are about to discuss those problems and understand what the public is seeing," Burrows added, "It's interesting to see the challenges from both sides."
Burrows is also learning how to balance the 'leaving the attitude and authority of being a cop at the door' when it comes to connecting with the public. While always mindful of his job at a cop in Toronto he is able to really connect with his community which is one of the goals of the Toronto Police's social media program.
"#copchat is not a Toronto Police initiative. I do this on my own time and have found it to be a great way to connect. On Thursdays I hear about the chats from others, some who were part of the chat and others who just 'listened' in. Each week more people are going to the chats and that's what we want to happen," Burrows smiled.
To be part of the chat join in every Wednesday night at 9 p.m. EDT. Use the #copchat hashtag through tools like TweetDeck, HootSuite or TweetChat.