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BLOGGERS BYTE BACK AT LAPD'S ONLINE FORAY.

Byline: JOSH KLEINBAUM Staff Writer

In its first week, the LAPD's Internet blog included posts about police recruiting, deadly car crashes, the federal consent decree, police recruiting, a corrupt cop, a heroic cop, and, yes, more police recruiting.

The blog has found a generally receptive audience but like all things in the unfiltered blogosphere, reaction from other bloggers can be swift -- and sometimes brutal.

``LAPD starts blog,'' writes David Miller at themillerreport.com. ``What is the LAPD going to blog about? `Today, the LAPD beat down 74 black people. It was a good day.'''

On suicidegirls.com, a blogger who goes by the name ``low culture'' also took the sarcastic approach: ``What a remarkable development in the potential for interaction between time-killing Angeleno office workers and the cops who police the streets around their office buildings!''

The world of bloggers welcomed the LAPD a week ago with a combination of skepticism and excitement. Some said the department's foray into the 21st century marked the arrival of blogging in the mainstream.

``Whenever I think of the police, I do not think internet,'' Christopher Salazar blogged at ebizz.wordpress.com. ``Either way, police departments can easily harness the Internet and use it to their advantage... This is definitely an interesting find. Blogging is almost mainstream, this is really a big jump.''

A handful of bloggers questioned what the LAPD will write about a major scandal. That's the real test, they said, which will determine whether it's an honest look inside the workings of the Los Angeles Police Department or simply a public-relations vehicle to deliver recycled press releases.

``The question is, how is this department going to respond to a major incident, a Devin Brown shooting or a Susie Pena shooting?'' said Lt. Ruben De La Torre, who is in charge of the department's Public Communications Section and runs lapdblog.org.

``It'll be interesting to see what happens. I know our chief wants us to be open in those situations.''

L.A.'s is the largest police department in the country to operate a blog -- joining the city Fire and Animal Services departments to use the Internet bulletin board to disseminate information to the public.

In its first week, more than 28,000 people viewed the blog. On Friday alone, 3,203 people had viewed the blog by 1:30 p.m., De La Torre said.

Chief William Bratton has said he wants the blog to create a dialogue between the department and the community. He posted a welcome message May 11, but has not posted since -- he's been on vacation in Italy this week, De La Torre said.

As of Friday, there were 128 comments posted in response to 22 posts. All comments must be approved by De La Torre -- he said he screens for foul language and links to pornography, but not whether the comment is positive or negative.

The department has not posted any responses to comments -- ``Perhaps they are waiting for back-up?'' said Bob Toovey at blogging4business.com -- but De La Torre said he was preparing responses to two comments Friday afternoon.

``They're really interested in engaging their core constituency 7/8 they want to give their community the chance to interact with them,'' said Teresa Valdez Klein, a blogger for blogbusinesssummit.com, which runs clinics for the business-blogging community.

``The police department, especially in Los Angeles, they really need to work hard to become community figures, not just cops.''

So far, most of the posts on the blog were simply press releases that would have been posted on the LAPD's Web site before it launched the blog. Still, some bloggers believe that putting the same information in blog form invites user input in the form of comments and makes it more welcoming to the average Joe.

``You feel like you're getting the inside scoop, rather than something that's just written for the media,'' said Nicole Criona, a blogger from West Hollywood. ``I'm an avid blog reader. I know a lot of people that are avid blog readers. They're getting more and more popular, and they feel more personal.''

josh.kleinbaum(at)dailynews.com

(818) 713-3669

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Bloggers sound off on new LAPD site
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Publication:Daily News (Los Angeles, CA)
Date:May 20, 2006
Words:699
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