The Saratoga County Sheriff’s Department has stepped into the social media world.
The department Monday launched a new email system and has also started a department Twitter account since Michael H. Zurlo took over as sheriff last week.
He announced the email system by which the public can contact members of the Sheriff’s Office law enforcement, administrative and support staff.
“I am proud to announce the implementation of an agencywide public email system that will allow the Sheriff’s Office to improve our crime prevention abilities and provide the public with a computer-assisted method to relay information,” said Zurlo, who last week succeeded longtime Sheriff James D. Bowen. Zurlo, a Republican, was elected in November after Bowen opted not to seek re-election and announced his retirement.
Under Bowen, most information coming out of the department — such as news releases about arrests and accidents — was delivered to news organizations by fax. There was an internal email system, but it wasn’t attached to the outside world through the Internet.
District Attorney James A. Murphy III, on the other hand, has been a prolific user of Internet media including Twitter for years, and distributes all major news releases electronically. On Monday he was sworn in for a fifth four-year term, issued an electronic news release with a photo and posted it through Twitter.
During his election campaign, Zurlo promised to increase the agency’s social media presence.
Going forward, news releases will be distributed by email, said Chief Deputy Richard Castle.
He said the email system has been in development for more than a year, though it’s just now making its public debut.
With the system, residents, businesses and anyone else wishing to bring information to the attention of the Sheriff’s Office can now contact it at [email protected]
Zurlo said more than 170 of his employees have been provided with unique email addresses that can be accessed from remote locations and from patrol units.
Zurlo, who had a 32-year career with the Sheriff’s Department before running for sheriff, said residents are encouraged to contact the agency by email with suggestions, comments and tips. But he said those with an emergency to report should continue to call the 911 emergency number.
“Implementing a public email system is just the beginning,” he said. “We have plenty of work to do. In an effort to keep the public aware of public safety issues, in the coming weeks we will roll out our department’s social media channels and new website.”
A Twitter account, @SaratogaSheriff, has also been started. It posted its first tweet Sunday, and by late Monday afternoon already had nearly 250 followers.
Castle said the Twitter account will be used for updating developing situations such as temporary road closures, as well as general announcements.
A new website for the Sheriff’s Office and a Facebook page also are in development.
“We will have the full range of social media presence,” Castle said.
He said a core group with the department will review incoming general email and decide what Twitter posts go out in the department’s name.