The Daily Post had an interesting article over the weekend about Palo Alto doing what it calls a "virtual ride-along". They describe it as
Last night from 5 pm to 1 am, a public information officer hopped into the front seat alongside a patrol officer and live-tweeted all of their calls for service, an event the department dubbed a virtual ride-along. The tweets were posted on the police department's official Twitter account, @PaloAltoPolice.
Interested residents asked questions during the ride-along by including the hashtag "PAPDvra" or mentioning the police department's account.
I think this is a great idea. I did a ride-along with the B'game PD back in 2006 and wrote up my impressions of the night for the Voice. Here is a small excerpt of that story
My immediate impression was that our cops really know the town’s habits and many of its inhabitants. Our first call was a mere 10 minutes into my shift. It would be the easier of two meth-induced problems we would deal with that night. This contact was the third one with the same individual in less than 24 hours and highlighted to me the need for a little tougher stance at the Psych ward of Peninsula hospital. The revolving door needs to slow down a bit. The second meth-driven incident was worse. Later on a fire truck had to get a man off the roof of a commercial building and then an ambulance took him to the County hospital. He was an expensive problem for the taxpayers.
It was an education for me and I think having BPD do a Tweet-along (a better name than virtual ride-along) would allow more people to get a taste of what goes on in town. It's sort of a curated, modern version of listening to a police scanner! And it costs nothing!