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BOISE -- The Boise Police Department says Twitter and Facebook has opened up a line of communication between the public and the department that wasn't there before.

You can receive missing person alerts, traffic updates and anything else the police wants you to know about quickly.

That's why they say social networking sites are becoming an invaluable tool to the department.

It's just a great way for the police department to just engage and be part of an ongoing conversation with hundreds of people in the community at one given time, said Boise Police public information officer Lynn Hightower.

Hightower says they've been using sites like Facebook and Twitter for about a year. The department is able to send short messages to their followers about what's happening in the community, be it a public safety alert or just traffic updates.

She says Twitter has also created more communication between the public and the police department.

Hightower often receives messages from those in the community about specific problems they see in their neighborhood.

I send that immediately to the traffic officers and they're like, oh thanks, I'll get out there tomorrow, said Hightower.

BPD says most recently when they issued that public warning about the suspect in the North End of Boise entering homes and were able to quickly reach a large audience because of these social networking sites.

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