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With one hashtag at a time, Detective Joe Murray is making Philadelphia a little safer.

After a two-month hiatus, “@TheFuzz9143” is back as a source of news and safety tips for West and Southwest Philadelphia communities. Yesterday, the Philadelphia detective was cleared by the Philadelphia Police Department to continue “@PPDJoeMurray.”

In January, PPD asked Murray to hold off on his tweets after two years of activity. Philadelphia Police Director of Communications and 1998 College graduate Karima Zedan said this was done in order to make Twitter use throughout the department more uniform. Zedan said this was to make sure Murray “stays within policy.”

For Murray, whose account has about 1,000 followers, setting up this account was a matter of practicality. “It seems like common sense to want to connect to people,” he said. He chose Twitter because of its conciseness in relaying information.

Murray uses his Twitter to inform the community of breaking news and build relationships.

On Dec. 4, he wrote, “Double shooting at 5021 Baltimore Ave @ 4am. Both men were taken to HUP and are in stable condition.”

He also individually responds to questions from his followers.

After neighborhood blogs decreased in popularity, Murray created his Twitter account as a way to increase communication within neighborhoods.

“Making their own neighborhood safe again, that’s what it’s all about,” he said.

Murray also wants to get rid of the mysterious haze around the police. “Nobody knows the police,” he said. “The police show up and it’s not for something good, so we have to combat that stigma that we have.” He believes sharing important information and connecting to people in his area are essential.

“We want to put a face on the police department. We want to say trust me and come to me.”

Murray finds his relationships with communities invaluable as they often relay crucial information to him for his cases.

However, these relationships can only be created in a familiar way. “Just talk human [and] build normal relationships.”

Penn’s Division of Public Safety is also increasing its Twitter use. @PennDPS is updated roughly once a week with safety notices and tips, according to Vice President for Public Safety Maureen Rush. However, DPS does not consider Twitter a method for relaying emergency information.

“We don’t want any kind of crime issue locked in with general information,” Rush said. Penn recently hired someone to help DPS and the University as a whole develop their social media for connecting to the community.

Now that Murray is back, he assures his followers that there will be no censorship in his tweets.

Zedan commends Murray on his ability to connect with people. PPD hopes to use Murray as a model for other members of the department. Murray will be involved in a pilot program in which a small group of officers and detectives will be taught to effectively use Twitter. “We are very excited to see what Joe Murray can bring us,” Zedan said.

College sophomore Emily Ruderman agrees that Twitter is a great way of relaying breaking news. Twitter is “a lot easier than waiting for a UPennAlert,” she said. “When news stories break I find out quicker — one sentence and I know what’s going on.”

However, College freshman Ashleigh Seely doesn’t consider Twitter a viable source of news. She said, “There’s only so much you can say in 140 characters.” For Seely, Twitter is more for entertainment value. She does admit that something like Murray’s account “could work for those who are concerned with their daily awareness.”

This article was revised to clarify that DPS did not hire its own staff member to develop its social media.

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