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.
A little trip through Hellgate Canyon on Interstate 90. This is time lapse folks DO NOT attempt this drive at 1100mph. Do not even drive it at the posted speed limit. That is for clean dry roads. #MTroads #MTwx #SlowDown pic.twitter.com/5us8aVNTPx— Trooper TJ Templeton (@Trooper_TJ) February 25, 2019
"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."
This is your visibility around Billings today.— Trooper Calvin Jimmerson (@TrooperCalvin) February 26, 2019
Before you travel in these conditions, weigh the importance of your trip against the dangers of traveling on a day like today. #MakeGoodDecisions#WinterStorm#MTWX pic.twitter.com/tMO6JzcX0s
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.
What’s it taste like?— Trooper TJ Templeton (@Trooper_TJ) March 13, 2019
-Tastes like a drunk clown threw up in a cotton candy machine.
-Tastes like I wanna go back in time and slap myself.
-Tastes like the floor drain at a Jolly Rancher factory.
-Tastes like the flashbacks of someone that hit too much acid in the 60’s. pic.twitter.com/rGbUst6PWj
Montana Attorney General Tim Fox posted this tweet where you can find the handles for all of the tweeting troopers:
We now have 9 Tweeting Troopers across #Montana. Welcome, @TrooperStoner, who serves Bozeman. Follow him and our other @MTHwyPatrol Tweeting Troopers: @trooper_boots, @TrooperCalvin, @TrooperStefani, @trooper_timmins, @TrooperAVilla, @TrooperPesola, @SgtPatrick127 & @Trooper_TJ— Tim Fox (@AGTimFox) April 11, 2019