Prince George’s police have postponed a scheduled Twitter chat with the chief after an officer died of an apparent medical emergency in his home Thursday morning, authorities said.
From noon to 12:30 p.m., Chief Mark Magaw was scheduled to monitor the department’s media relations division’s Twitter account, @PGPDNews, and respond to residents’ comments and concerns on Twitter. But minutes before the event was to begin, authorities announced it was postponed because an officer had died.
The officer, 29-year-old Robert M. Wiggins, Jr., died of an apparent medical emergency in his Fort Washington home Thursday morning, while he was off duty. Vince Canales, president of the county’s Fraternal Order of Police, said Wiggins called 911 to report he was having trouble breathing, and later collapsed and died.
Wiggins had no history of health problems, though some medical officials speculated he might have suffered an embolism or heart problem, Canales and other authorities said. Canales said Wiggins, who had worked for the department for four years and was assigned to District 2, was “a good officer, a good man.”
“We’re sad that we’ve lost him,” Canales said.
This post has been updated.
Notice a street light on your block that is out? See a group of kids selling drugs on the corner near your house?
If you live in Prince George’s County, police want you to Tweet about it Thursday.
From noon to 12:30 p.m., the county police department will be hosting its first-ever “Tweet the Chief” event (that’s hashtag #TweetTheChief, for those more familiar with Twitter) — a live chat in which residents can direct problems or praise at Police Chief Mark Magaw from their computers or cell phones, authorities said.
“It’s a progressive way for people out in the community to interact with their chief where normally they wouldn’t,” said Julie Parker, the department’s top spokeswoman who has strenuously advocated the department to expand its social media presence since she was was hired away from ABC7 News last year.
Magaw does not have his own Twitter handle — at least not yet — so the department is asking residents to Tweet at the department’s media relation division’s account, @PGPDNews, which has more than 2,700 followers. During the half hour the event is running, Magaw will be monitoring the account with Parker (@PGPDJulie), authorities said.
Parker said people can begin sending in questions and comments whenever they want, and Magaw will try to respond to as many as he can Thursday. She said she hopes to focus the chat on the county’s recently announced Transforming Neighborhoods Initiative — a multi-agency effort to reduce crime, improve student test scores and generally raise the quality of life in six areas deemed most in need of help — but any and all questions and comments are fair game.
“I’m not only going to be focused on the positive,” Parker said. “This is about people expressing their concerns if they have them, and hopefully it’s about us being able to answer them right then and there.”
Magaw occasionally appears on live TV and radio programs to take questions from residents, and in ways, this is no different. But Parker said that she hopes the idea catches on because people are more likely to ask a question or make a comment online than they are to call in to a TV show or radio program.
“Where some people might be afraid to pick up the phone to go on radio or TV to ask their question, this is an easy way for people to do it from the comfort of their home or cell phone,” Parker said.