Oak Bay police chief launches personal Twitter account after controversial post
VICTORIA -- Oak Bay is a small municipality but its police department’s Twitter account is relatively large in comparison.
“Given that our population is around 18,000, having 7,000 followers is pretty impressive,” said Oak Bay Mayor Kevin Murdoch.
The Twitter account can be witty, but there’s always an important message underneath the humour.
“I take the job very seriously, but what I don’t do is take myself very seriously,” said Oak Bay Police Chief Ray Bernoties, who runs the department’s Twitter page. Or rather, he used to run it.
Bernoties decided to hand over the Twitter account to another officer on Sunday after his response to recent vandalism in the community sparked controversy.
“Somebody in our community wrote, ‘Kill cops,’ in several places in our community,” Bernoties told CTV News.
“I think of people that I know that I've lost, I think of my friends, I think of some of the people here who are incredible moms and dads,” he said. “For someone to write, in their own community down the road, ‘Kill them,’ is incredibly hurtful.”
In response to the vandalism, the police chief posted on the department’s Twitter account saying that whoever was responsible was likely a “privileged twerp.”
The post garnered both support and criticism towards the police department, leading Bernoties to hand over the account.
“I had to come out with a strategy of how I can still be a voice for police and a voice for community without bringing anger to our members or an organization I love,” he said.
Less than a week after its creation, the police chief’s new personal Twitter account has grown to more than 500 followers.
Oak Bay’s mayor says that through social media, the police chief helps connect the community in compelling ways.
“I’ve laughed out loud many times,” said Murdoch. “He tries to make people aware of what happens in Oak Bay and what work the police undertake and their community connections.”