TORONTO – When a GTA-based Twitter user tweeted a public request for a drug dealer to deliver some goods to his workplace Tuesday, it’s safe to assume he didn’t think the police would be the first to reply.
“Any dealers in Vaughan wanna make a 20sac chop,” tweeted the user who identifies themselves as Sunith Baheerathan, requesting that the dealer deliver to a Mr. Lube location at Keele Street and Langstaff Road in Vaughan.
But, an hour later the user received a reply from an unlikely source – York Regional Police.
But they weren’t finished just yet. The account then tweeted the original pot-plea message to businessman Jim Treliving, who owns the collective investment proflio T&M group of businesses – including Mr. Lube.
York Regional Police’s tweet has since been retweeted over 1,300 times and favourited over 800 times and earned some serious kudos with followers.
“Whoever is in charge of @YRP social media is my favourite person today,” responded one follower. “So amazing. #Owned,” tweeted another.
A screenshot of the tweet was even uploaded to photo-sharing site Imgur titled, “Canada doing Twitter right.”
This isn’t the first time that York Regional Police have garnered a standing ovation for their response to users on Twitter.
Last year, after seeing a tweet from a Twitter user that read,“That awkward moment when we’re unknowingly smoking a (joint) right outside the doors to the York Regional Police wing of the mall,” the YRP Twitter account fired back, “That awkward moment when you realize you just drew way too much unwanted attention to yourself.”
But, despite the humor behind the tweet, it wasn’t something police tweeted quickly to get some laughs. According to Constable Blair McQuillan – the man behind the tweet – his team carefully weighed their options before choosing to reply to the tweet.
“We could have, and we did discuss a completely different route in this – turning it over to investigators – we have had other instances where we turn things over to investigators,” Const. McQuillan told Global News.
“Much like being on the road and doing person-to-person police work we are using our discretion on these issues and we have to evaluate where we put our resources.”
McQuillan explained that the tweet was spotted by someone on the community response team – a team which he says is made up of YRP’s media officers, alongside plain-clothes civilian employees.
These employees keep an eye on Twitter and use social media monitoring tools to check out chatter around York Region, in townships north of Toronto.
“One of the people in our office came across this tweet and we just thought it was worthwhile to respond to,” said McQuillan.
“We want to let people know that we are out there monitoring social media – that we still are a law enforcement agency and we expect people to obey the laws. But, we also want to get our message out; with the popularity of Twitter accounts people are obviously seeing that message.”
McQuillan said that through their Twitter account’s popularity – which now has over 10,000 followers – the force has learned that sending messages like “Drugs are bad” tend to get lost in the Twitterverse; which is where a sense of humor comes into play.
“It’s a vast network, there are so many voices out there and sometimes it’s difficult to get heard. So we try to do education and entertainment at the same time,” said McQuillan.
The YRP has become known for its clever Twitter feed, which often includes banter back and forth with other users and, of course, the occasional joke.
McQuillan boasts that even the younger crowd is warming up to cops – some even tweeting that they want to hang out with the officers behind the account, he said.
“We want to bring our personality out and we have been very lucky that our executive command team bought into it as well, they give us the ability to do this,” said McQuillan.
“Because social media is so new, every organization has had their trial and error. There has been some method to our madness, but sometimes it’s just madness.”