Renton Police Department takes public on a virtual ride-along

Take a ride with the police, right from the comfort of your home.

Have you ever wanted to participate in a police ride along? Now you can from the comfort of your own home.

Renton Police Department is conducting a virtual ride-along from 6 p.m. to midnight on Saturday, Oct. 7.

Sgt. Christy Mathews said the virtual ride-along is a way to give the public a taste of what it’s like to step into an officer’s shoes for a shift.

“We always have people who want to know what’s going on in the city. It’s a good way to give them an idea on what our shifts look like and the kind of work we do,” she said.

The idea came from Kent Police Department, who conducted a Tweet-along recently.

“Kent said they had a pretty good response and they want to do it again ,” she said. “If our audiences are similar, which I think they might be, there’s a potential we might do this a little more often.”

A virtual ride-along allows the department to reach a wider audience, as well as ensure the (virtual) passenger’s safety, Mathews said.

“Ride-alongs can be very interesting, but depending on the calls are, we can’t let the rider get out of the car for their safety, and sometimes for privacy,” she said. “In some respects, they aren’t going to see anything anyway. This might give them a little more input on the outcome of what happened… this will reach a broader audience and people can participate.”

The department chose Twitter as a platform as it allows them to create quick updates and it’s easier to follow.

“(Twitter) is more instantaneous. Facebook seems to be a little bigger platform. On Twitter, we can give general information real quick. I don’t want to be riding on the passenger side and write out this huge long post. I can convey the generality (of a situation) through Twitter,” said Mathews.

Mathews said if they get enough response and interest, the department will look into doing virtual ride-alongs on a regular basis.

“I’m going to measure it through feedback during the ride along,” she said. “We’re encouraging people to ask us questions through Twitter, and depending on the calls of service and how busy it is, we’ll try to respond to as many as we can…. And someone might say, ‘Hey this was pretty interesting, we’d like to see more of this,’ then we’ll look at doing it again.”

To follow RPD’s virtual ride-along, follow their Twitter account @RentonpdWA and the hashtag #RentonPdridealong. There will be a briefing at 5:40 p.m. Officers will start their shift at 6 p.m.