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April 3, 2014 | 10:11 am
IOWA CITY, Iowa -- Instead of cramming thousands into the shotgun seat of squad cars, police across the country have been using "tweet-alongs," an online way to give people a candid, firsthand, view of what officers do while on patrol. Tom Nixon, a University of Iowa dispatcher, wanted to bring the concept to the UIPD after seeing other departments give it a try. "We like the idea that this is a way for more than just one person to actually get a glimpse into the everyday night of a police officer," said Nixon. Here's how it worked. For four hours Wednesday night, Nixon rode shotgun with a few different patrol officers. He posted the memorable moments to Twitter with his phone. "Typically we deal with-- it's possible we may have alcohol related incidents, theft, trespass. Just like any other police department," said Oleta McKenna, with the University of Iowa Police Department. The evening's highlights included a lost child who police reunited with a guardian, a few patrols at UI buildings, a stop for hotdogs, and a warning to the public about the chilly weather. All in all, it was a quiet night. But, Nixon said more of these tweet-alongs could be happening in the future. "Just kind of dipping our toe into this, getting our feet wet. Seeing the kind of reaction we get. So far, it's been great. I think that's going to open the door to more down the road," said Nixon.