The Houston Police Department has held a couple of "Tweet Alongs" where officers report on their activities on the beat, tagging them #HPDTweetAlong. The most recent was a rather uneventful night shift. It got us to thinking that there are plenty of opportunities for the city to better engage the world of social media via Twitter hashtags.
We don't just mean tweets from the Mayor of members of City Council, or the fire department -- those guys have far more important things to do than tweet. We're talking about the folks with boots on the ground handling the thankless jobs involved in running the fourth largest city in America. Here are some suggestions.
In all seriousness, why BARC doesn't hand a camera phone to all animal control personnel and post a photo of every single dog and cat they catch is beyond us. Perhaps it would be too depressing, but given the Internet's obsession with cute, fuzzy animals, it couldn't hurt.
No one needs to be bothering the folks at 9-1-1. That job is life and death. But 3-1-1? That's an entirely different story. Imagine the stories. The annoying neighbor who leaves a one-inch strip of grass uncut on his property. The pothole that never gets filled. The airplane contrails clearly filled with mind-control drugs. The life of a 3-1-1 operator has got to be pretty damn interesting. Inquiring minds want to know.
Picture an entire Twitter stream of nothing but, "We're really sorry 290 is such a mess" or "We can't tell you who designed the 59/45/288 interchange, but, yes, he's an idiot." It wouldn't get anything fixed, but it would make us all feel better. #ParkingTicketYGTBKM
For the non-web slang savvy, that is "You've Got to Be Kidding Me" and oh what fun we could all have with this one. If every asshole in a handicap spot without a tag or double parked in a Mercedes or six inches from your driver's side door had a photo posted online, what a release. And if parking ticket cops could do the same along with photos of tickets or, dare we hope, yellow tire boots, it would be glorious.
Kramer once told the cast of Seinfeld, "You meet a proctologist at a party, don't walk away. Plant yourself there because you will hear the funniest stories you've ever heard." The same can no doubt be said of municipal court judges who have to deal with traffic tickets and minor citations of every persuasion. We personally can't wait to read about the crazy old man with 10 witnesses who demands to have his parking ticket dismissed because the government is spying on him. It's gold, Jerry. GOLD!
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SHOW ME HOW
If you have ever lived in an area where there is quite a bit of home construction, you have no doubt seen the white Public Works Department vehicles slowly trolling for inspection violators. We have heard that sompe people who don't want to run afoul of city permitting requirements (or deal with them in the first place) have contractors work under cover of darkness to avoid the prying eyes of inspectors. This hashtag could be like one, long stakeout where the only payoff is the Instagram photos of tickets handed out. Scintillating.
Of course the obvious tweets come from the garbage men, but with a slight twist: They tweet about YOUR garbage. They find the crazy crap you threw out and let the world know. It's like the ultimate found art project and you are the star. It would certainly make you think twice next time you wanted to ditch that used sex toy. My guess is you would head straight for the city dump instead...which can only mean #CityDumped might be next on the list.