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Overwhelming response to virtual patrol

Overwhelming response to virtual patrol

Nearly 45,000 people took to Twitter last night to follow Bay of Plenty Police on a virtual ride-along with an overwhelmingly positive response.

The patrol ran from 7pm to 2am providing a real time snapshot of policing across Western Bay and advice to encourage safe celebrations.

The most retweeted event of the night was a car which struck a house, knocked down a tree and landed on its roof in Papamoa. Miraculously the driver and his passenger walked away with relatively minor injuries. Alcohol is believed to have been a factor.

The majority of the other incidents attended by the 'Tweet Beat' were alcohol-related such as drink-driving and disorder.

Area Commander Inspector Clifford Paxton said: "It was a first for us so we had no idea how much interest we would get and were quite amazed by the response. Throughout the entire shift we received a constant flow of messages commenting on the patrol and showing their support for the policing operation. Policing can be a thankless task so it was good for the staff who were working last night to hear the positive feedback from the Twitter community."

Tweets came from as far afield as the Netherlands. Some were clearly local with comments such as 'we have the coolest police in the country' and others simply acknowledged the tough job that the police have such as 'you guys are brilliant, brave AS'.

"Tonight has proved how useful a tool social media can be for communication and we would certainly consider more virtual patrols in the future," said Inspector Paxton.

Although the Twitter team were kept busy throughout the shift, Police are praising the behaviour of the majority of the public across the Bay of Plenty District.

Prevention Manager Inspector Scott Fraser said: "Yet again the Bay of Plenty has proved to be a fantastic place for families to see in the New Year. Most of the revellers were in great spirits and looking out for another. As always we were disappointed that there were small groups of people who let themselves down. Not only does it concern us that nearly all of the incidents we had to deal were alcohol-related, a significant number involved unsupervised youngsters.

"There were way too many teenagers who had access to alcohol and were intoxicated to the point where they placed themselves at risk."

Unlike the torrent of rain that washed out last year's celebrations, this year brought fine sunny conditions and the potential for increased disorder and arrests. However the crowds were very well-behaved in the main and as at 1.45am arrest figures were: Western Bay 47, Rotorua 27, Taupo 13 and Eastern Bay 4.


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