Sheriff’s social media fascination: “News” that’s very different

Twitter has been all abuzz today with “tweets” from the St Johns County Sheriff’s Office media relations staff who have been posting photographs taken during a dragnet of sorts — verifying the whereabouts of some of the county’s 238 registered sexual offenders and predators.

Social Media Technician Jamie L. Johnson was embedded with the Sexual Predator and Offender Tracking Team, accompanying its coordinator, Senior Detective Sheldon J. York II, as ten team members split up to inspect locations across the county.

“In 2012, we only had 170 offenders,” Johnson tweeted this morning. “Now, we have 238. Of that number, 23 are predators. That’s significant.”

Did you know that sexual predators are supposed to avoid libraries, school bus stops, and parks? In addition to inspecting the home addresses registered by the offenders, the team also walked through Ron Parker Memorial Park at St Augustine Beach, the carousel at Davenport Park in St Augustine, as well as the Hastings Public Library.

Most of the comments read as you might expect if you are familiar with Twitter where all the comments have to fit into 140 characters. They weren’t written like the typical sheriff’s office press release nor did they use the language and jargon reporters in the media are accustomed to reading.

For example, Johnson posted this to Twitter, “Right now, Sheldon York is checking the predator out, making sure everything is on the up and up. This one is good.” Or, this comment, “Stopping by this one because we have gotten a lot of complaints recently. So far, though, nothing out of the ordinary.”

It is unusual, to say the least, to read an official communication from a law enforcement agency that reads, “Just drove by the St Augustine Tot Lot to make sure there were no creepy dudes. None were found.” Or these, “Anyone who looks creepy? We are gonna question you,” and “Checking on the carousel. Have you seen creepy people here before? If so, let us know.”

Word to the wise — don’t go out in public if you look “creepy”. Good thing they didn’t go to Walmart.

At the end of the day, the Sheriff’s Office did not post any updates of issues encountered on their countywide operation Thursday. The jail log does not reflect any arrests Thursday for violations of registration requirements.

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