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Lanier says she didn’t cause Twitter blackout

Lanier says she’s had Twitter concerns, but did not demand a “black out.” (Jacquelyn Martin/AP)

”There were some things that occurred,” Fire Chief Kenneth Ellerbe said. “It imperiled an operation in another D.C. government agency.”

Paul Quander, deputy mayor for public safety, while still oblique, offered a bit more information in his comments, saying he was concerned that a ill-advised tweet might “put officers’ safety at risk.” He later added that he didn’t “want to have to explain why certain information got out and citizens or police officers are injured.”

On background, administration sources more readily identify the internal conflict as emanating from the police department. But Police Chief Cathy L. Lanier says you can’t blame her for the recent Twitter hiatus.

”Over the past few years there have been many occasions where we have asked them to correct bad information or refrain from putting out victim/witness info but we have always done that,” she wrote me in an e-mail. “Typically my [public information] office will handle those issues but none of those issues [would] rise to a level of a black out.”

So the final straw that led to the break remains a mystery, though it’s moot now that Mayor Vincent C. Gray’s administration has committed to restoring @dcfireems to its past glory.

Incidentally, the police Twitter feed, @dcpolicedept, remains, well, kind of a snooze. It mainly features crime tips, with a few traffic accident reports mixed in.

Here’s to hoping that Lanier, otherwise a masterful communicator, figures out that it’s truly possible to keep citizens up to the minute on police operations without endangering officers and their work.

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