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'Counsel is better than cell': Meet the team behind Mumbai Police's Twitter witticisms

In barely three weeks, @MumbaiPolice has been drawing attention for its chuckle-worthy public service tweets.

Less than a month after the Mumbai Police made its debut on Twitter, its @MumbaiPolice account is drawing eyeballs for some rather quirky wordplay in its daily tweets. In a stream of public service messages posted over the past two weeks, the Twitter handle has been attempting to tackle issues such as road safety, drug use and cyber crime by using light-hearted humour in its copywriting.

On Monday, for instance, @MumbaiPolice marked its Traffic Safety Awareness Week with this tweet:

Other tweets have punned and twisted words in the same vein, and were retweeted several times by @MumbaiPolice’s 19,000 followers.

Brains behind the tweets

The Mumbai Police tweets – using the same brand of humour found on the road safety signboards across Ladakh – could be seen as extremely funny or even almost cheesy. But behind the scenes, there are at least six people who take credit for the creative copywriting. The team includes four professionals from private digital media agency Trivone, a former crime journalist and Commissioner of Police Ahmad Javed himself.

“It took a while to convince the Mumbai police to join social media, but in a city like Mumbai, Twitter can be a very effective way to communicate with people,” said Sunchika Pandey, the former journalist who now volunteers some of her time to oversee the Trivone team that formally handles the city police’s Twitter account. During her stint as a crime reporter from 2005 to 2011, Pandey developed a strong rapport with senior police officials who now trust her to ensure that the Twitter account is sensitive and politically correct.

But a lot of the humour on the @MumbaiPolice comes from police chief Javed himself, who leads the team and approves of all the creativity and content that is published on the page.

“The police is often seen as rough and tough, but Mumbai city has a sense of humour, and the CP was always open to adding humour to the tweets,” said Pandey.

Planning for the witty tweets and other Mumbai Police social media campaigns began at least six months ago, and every few weeks, Pandey, the Trivone team, Javed and other senior police officials – joint-CP Deven Bharti and deputy CP Dhananjay Kulkarni – hold meetings to brainstorm for ideas and discuss strategies.

“Although we brainstorm together, Javed sir himself thinks of some very funny lines for tweets,” said Pandey. “He is also very particular about grammar.”

Chief wordster

Police chief Ahmad Javed’s interest in wordplay is evident from the tweets on his own official Twitter page:

“Most Twitter users have a very young age profile,” said Deven Bharti, the city’s joint commissioner of police for law and order. “The main purpose behind using such humour is to capture the attention of the youth.”

But the CP’s favourite tweet, says Pandey, is a more serious one addressed to men on women’s safety:

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