Created: Mar 27, 2012 at 6:19 PM America/New_York

CAPE CORAL, Fla. – People are using social media for more than staying in touch with friends. A local police department is harnessing the power of Twitter to push out information.

The Cape Coral Police Department started using Twitter in January 2011 but they’re really seeing it take off today. And while it may look fun, they have a very serious reason for doing it.

Sergeant Dana Coston is the man behind the Cape Police Department’s Twitter page “@CapePD” and over time he’s seen an increase in interest.

He believes it’s because of their own website, through connections on Facebook and on YouTube.

Every tweet and every update has a purpose. “When we need to push out information to the community or a traffic crash or something as bad as a perhaps a gunman, we’re able to get that information out to them instantly,” said Coston.

“We have over 800 followers, the average follower of ours has 100 or so followers of themselves, so in about 4 seconds we can get out a message to roughly 80,000 people,” said Lt. Tony Sizemore.

Now they’re looking to generate more interest through an upcoming event called Tweet from the Beat. For a day they’ll take Twitter followers on a virtual ride-along. “We will be the first that we know of, in the country that are doing this Tweet from the Beat,” said Sizemore.

The entire city of Cape Coral is jumping on the social media trend. Public information officer Connie Barron is now pushing out weekly audio podcasts, and Cape council members are engaging in online chats.

“Even if we get to one person using their particular type of set up, that’s one more person we can tell about Cape Coral, and we’ve got a lot of good stories to tell!” said Barron.

Cape PD is also using social media to close cases, they’ve say they’ve closed four this year because of it.

Tweet from the Beat could happen later this week. To find out when, you’ll have to sign up for Twitter, that’s where they will announce it.