More than two months after its goal, the San Diego Police Department tweeted Wednesday afternoon.

The region’s largest law enforcement agency had been reluctant to use Twitter, the popular social networking website, but then breathed life into its main account (@SanDiegoPD) hours after we highlighted its dormancy.

With landline and cell phones jammed during last week’s blackout, many residents turned to text messaging and social media websites like Twitter and Facebook for emergency announcements. San Diego Gas & Electric and numerous public agencies posted information directly to Twitter during the blackout. Police didn’t.

Creating an account and posting messages to Twitter takes a matter of minutes, but police had been slow to begin using Twitter before it outlined internal protocols. It didn’t know who would post information to the feed, monitor it and respond to messages.

Those concerns apparently vanished Wednesday after we published a Fact Check about the department’s use of Twitter. The department’s No. 2 cop said police put out crime information on Twitter when its use was indirect and infrequent at best.

On Wednesday, Paul Cooper, the police chief’s legal and policy adviser, said the department realized it could automatically post crime information to Twitter from a different social media website it already uses. Before Wednesday, police last used that website, Nixle, more than two months ago.

Though police now use Twitter, Cooper said the feed will not be actively monitored and people should continue to call 911 for all emergencies.

Keegan Kyle is a news reporter for voiceofsandiego.org. He writes about public safety and handles the Fact Check Blog. What should he write about next?

Please contact him directly at keegan.kyle@voiceofsandiego.org or 619.550.5668. You can also find him on Twitter (@keegankyle) and Facebook.

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