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Montana Treasure: Tweeting Troopers

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MISSOULA - Highway Patrol Trooper TJ Templeton says he has a lot of time to think up his next tweet while he's sitting in a patrol car monitoring traffic.

"I like to bust stereotypes sometimes, you know, instead of talking about safety stuff. You know, stereotypes are a pretty bad thing for cops,” Templeton says. He pauses to take a bite out of a doughnut.

“So I don't know. I’m trying to think of something, but I'll just sit here and i don't know see what hits me."

He's not goofing off at work - Trooper Templeton is one of nine Montana Highway Patrol officers who participate in the "Tweeting Trooper" program. MHP launched it last year to increase their engagement with the public.

Trooper Templeton says his job can be demanding and taxing, so he says the Twitter program allows troopers to have fun on the job while also educating the public about everything from road conditions and closures to incidents and animal sightings.

"But sometimes, it's just driving behaviors, or stuff that people are doing on the road that I notice over and over again,” he says. “And I'll try and come up with some way to share that in an interesting way.”

Templeton says he likes to be creative with safety messages, so he gets the public's attention. It’s also a friendly competition between the other tweeting troopers.

"This is a tweet that Trooper Jimmerson put out,” he says, demonstrating, “And this was in the Billings area, so I retweeted it so any of my followers that might be in that area can see what's going on there as well and hopefully they will give him a follow."

They also challenge each other. Templeton is currently in a battle against Trooper Pesola in Polson to see who will reach 5,000 followers the fastest. It's all in good fun, he says - and hopefully increases their ability to communicate with the public. Even when it's a review of a strange energy drink.

Montana Attorney General Tim Fox posted this tweet where you can find the handles for all of the tweeting troopers:

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