LAPD enters blogosphere

LOS ANGELES: In an effort to create dialogue and improve relations between local residents and police, the LA Police Department has just launched its first official blog.

LOS ANGELES: In an effort to create dialogue and improve relations between local residents and police, the LA Police Department has just launched its first official blog.

The LAPD blog, lapdblog.org, which bills itself as a tool to bring "information unfiltered directly to the public," offers "a lot of different advantages," said Lt. Paul Vernon, an LAPD media relations spokesman.

It's an outlet to address media-generated "rumors, misinformation, and disinformation in real time," he explained. It will also draw attention to the "positive things officers do that don't get covered" by the press.

Inspiration for the blog, Vernon said, came from police chief William Bratton. His son, who works with the Boston Police Department, introduced his father to that city's BDPNews blog, which has become a popular outreach tool for both community members and the press. Vernon noted that the media-savvy Bratton was hooked.

While comments posted to the blog are screened for "inappropriate content," Vernon said, "we are not into censoring." Thus far, that appears to be the case: Initial posts range from complimentary to borderline unpleasant. And though he couldn't provide specifics, Vernon said, "We already have lots of hits coming in."

The LAPD's main Web site, he noted, receives about 30 million hits each month.

It remains to be seen if the citizens who feel most ostracized by the police will use the blog, but "we're well on the way to getting the word out there," Vernon said. "There's no lack of interest."

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