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Student posts perp details to Twitter

Student posts perp details to Twitter

The unofficial Denton Police Twitter feed posts details - and mugshots - of all arrests made by the department.

It's becoming increasingly common for police forces to make use of this wonderful collection of tubes we like to call an Internet, but when a US police force started posting arrest details to Twitter people started to smell a rat.

As reported on CNet, a user using the name “Denton Police" on the popular microblogging site Twitter started posting details of every arrest made by the Denton Police Department as they hit the computer – complete with details of the alleged offences and mug shots of the accused.

At first, it appeared that police at Denton, Texas had latched on to Twitter as a way of making the public aware that it was doing its job – but nothing is quite what it seems on the 'net.

It has since come out that the Denton Police Twitter feed was actually created by Brian Baugh, a photography student at the University of North Texas. Taking the Denton City Jail Custody Report site – which is publicly accessible – as his data source, Baugh wrote a program which would monitor the site for additions and post them on Twitter – complete with a copy of the mugshot via image sharing service TwitPic.

Speaking to the Dallas Observer, Baugh seems nonplussed at the popularity of his creation: “I guess I'm just happy that it got popular,” he says, “I thought it would just be a thing with my friends.

While Baugh might have got his five minutes of fame from his creation, the Denton Police Department is less happy: although the feed has now been modified to clarify its unofficial status, the Department is looking to get the Twitter account closed for good. Baugh points out that all he is doing is taking publicly accessible data from the 'net and converting it to a different form, and doesn't see how the Department could possibly lay claim to the account unless “they wanted to use the account for themselves.

While the service is nothing more than a curiosity – unless you're a recently arrested citizen of Denton, of course – the Denton Police Department's reaction to it does demonstrate a point: once information is out there on the web, it's – as Baugh points out - “too late to put it back in the bottle.

Do you support what Baugh has done with the PerpTwitter, or does the Denton Police Department have a valid complaint? Share your thoughts over in the forums.

14 Comments

Discuss in the forums Reply
Krikkit 20th April 2009, 15:05 Quote
Sounds perfectly reasonable tbh - there's already a site that publishes the info. It's not like he hacked the police servers and stole the info. :\
p3n 20th April 2009, 15:21 Quote
hahah thats golden, mugshots are always good for a laugh- sux2beacrim.
DXR_13KE 20th April 2009, 15:27 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by Krikkit
Sounds perfectly reasonable tbh - there's already a site that publishes the info. It's not like he hacked the police servers and stole the info. :\

+1
shigllgetcha 20th April 2009, 15:54 Quote
yeh if theyre putting it up he should be allowed to do this. publics public
Red Eye 20th April 2009, 16:12 Quote
This is brilliant, the information is already in the public domain, the Twitter feed is merely making this fact more aware to a wider range of people. It's like saying "Hey guys, you can find out who died by looking at the obituaries" or "Hey guys, you want to know which company has been made bankrupt go to the courts or read the papers." Baugh should include a tweet every now and then telling people how they can find out this info themselves.
Henk 20th April 2009, 16:37 Quote
Now this is how twitter should be used :D
pizan 20th April 2009, 16:48 Quote
Damn thats awesome. I wonder if I could get a copy of that and modify it to my area.
MajorTom 20th April 2009, 17:30 Quote
This is hilarious. We should have one for every department. Until I get arrested for something that is.
perplekks45 20th April 2009, 19:46 Quote
As I seem to be nicest or luckiest guy in history I don't get arrested for anything so I'm not scared that any information about me might ever appear on any police's page. So I'd tell the police to hire that guy, make this a regular instalment for every department big enough or that wants it and show the people what you do.
I'd say please don't do it with car crashes or fires as that'll just attract all those annoying people always standing in the way anyways.

;) for the guy who did it though!
B3CK 20th April 2009, 21:24 Quote
Ya, I congradulate the guy. Although I wonder if he could be named "A member of the press" since his site is a publication of sorts.
Faulk_Wulf 20th April 2009, 22:19 Quote
I could see them having an issue with him using "Denton Police" even if he clarified he's unofficial. I almost think that might be what they mean by "close the account". I don't think they'd have a claim to stopping him from reposting public information but under the name "Denton Police" is a bit like saying the police endorse it by proxy. I could be something like "Denton Reports" or "Denton(tion)" or something. I'm not a marketing rep. lol.
Zurechial 21st April 2009, 03:01 Quote
Quote:
Remember that we're police. Stick with the prod. It will stun your opponents or knock them unconscious. A nonlethal takedown is always the most silent way to eliminate resistance.
liratheal 21st April 2009, 10:12 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by MajorTom
This is hilarious. We should have one for every department. Until I get arrested for something that is.

+1
Henk 21st April 2009, 10:20 Quote
Found this on the hardocp forum:
Quote:
Originally Posted by Chiplg
I live in Denton. If I ever get pulled over, the first thing out of my mouth will be "Don't Twitter me Bro!"
:D
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