Kool-Aid Man, you're the cops' prime suspect in Lino Lakes (on Twitter)

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What's the Kool-Aid Man doing in the Twitter feed of the Lino Lakes Police Department?

Social media infused with a lot of humor and a dash of strategy is helping the department get the word out about crime and safety in the Twin Cities suburb where thefts from cars and garages are the biggest problem.

"It doesn't matter if you are a criminal or a non-criminal, the Kool-Aid Man busting through a wall is a very legitimate threat," joked Kelly McCarthy, deputy director of public safety.

As the chief author of the department's tweets, McCarthy sees social media as an opportunity to create conversations — and build relationships.

Chief John Swenson, who assumed command of the department nearly four years ago, devised the social media strategy. He saw social media as a means to connect police officers with the community of about 20,000.

"We have fun with it, but certainly use it in a manner to promote safety," said Swenson. "I think sometimes government is afraid to interject humor."

McCarthy has a gift for social media, Swenson said. "She has a great sense of humor and is able to craft messages that are sensitive to difficult issues."

McCarthy doesn't see herself as being particularly witty — and claims she finds no personal satisfaction in crafting quirky messages.

"They are funny for cops," she said. "People expect us to be really rigid and void of personality."

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