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Twitterific Troy: Cops to get police cat

James David Dickson
The Detroit News
Troy police said they're getting a police cat.

Tomcat Troy? Somerset Samantha? What should the upcoming police cat be called?

The Troy Police Department, the law enforcement agency for Oakland County's most populous city, will be getting a police cat after all after reaching its goal of getting 10,000 followers on its Twitter account by April 1.

That challenge was issued on March 6, when the @TroyMI_police account had just 4,000 followers, less than half of what it needed. It took just more than a week to get the remainder, and the account announced on Wednesday that it had the following it needed to turn its police cat dream into a reality. 

The police department's community outreach section will bring in the cat, in collaboration with the Humane Society, said Sgt. Meghan Lehman of the Troy Police Department. The idea has been kicked around for years, bringing in either a cat or a non-K9 officer dog, for therapeutic purposes.

The cat is also expected to make public appearances. But it won't live in the building, it will go home every night with an officer. Several have expressed interest.

"Our police chief (Gary Mayer) gives us the latitude to do some creative things," Lehman said. 

When Lehman started using the Troy police Twitter account three years ago, it had just 700 followers. It gained multiple of that within the last week. The growth, she said, owes to a shift in approach.

"We learned you can't just put information out and expect that people will listen," Lehman said. "Shouting the message out, that doesn't work. We're competing with all this other information out there."

Lehman said she was surprised that "we haven't gotten a lot of pushback" for the cat campaign. Some tweeters have questioned the approach, though, wondering whether the tweets detract from investigations and traffic stops. But that's a minority, and they don't. Those are different jobs done by different people.

"If we had a super-high crime rate, people maybe would be more opposed to this cat thing," Lehman said.

Troy Police Department is among the more active Twitter presences in Michigan among law enforcement, often offering a humorous take on the day's events, as in its pre-Thanksgiving warning to motorists against driving drunk.

As for what role the cat will have on the force, Lehman joked that she envisioned a supervisory role for the feline.

"They're going to want to boss people around," Lehman said.