Walbridge police like Facebook
Written by DEBBIE ROGERS Sentinel Staff Writer
Tuesday, 10 December 2013 11:44
WALBRIDGE - It's better than a "wanted" poster or a public relations firm.
The use of Facebook has catapulted the Walbridge Police Department into the public eye, and helped arrest some criminals along the way.
"The power of social media's pretty amazing," said Mayor Ed Kolanko.
Since going live in late January, the police department's Facebook page has more than 1,400 "likes." It's helped get the word out on suspects and promote crime-fighting tips.
It's run by patrolman Jeff Goetz, who proposed the page to Chief Kenneth Frost. The department adopted regulations set by the Ohio Highway Patrol, and hasn't looked back since.
Goetz has made the page informative (with news like: block watch meeting tomorrow at 6 p.m.) and entertaining (this post after the Nov. 17 storms: the power is out and so are we! Nothing slows us down).
Visitors can find the monthly crime statistics and tips, such as beware of email scams and turkey fryers. Goetz has even posted pictures of drug paraphernalia and a marijuana pipe.
"I want the public to know what's going on in town," he said. "People don't think that stuff comes into town, and it does."
The village also has its fair share of criminals passing through, and Facebook has aided in tracking them down.
"Clint Hill was a big one. I think we got 200 'likes' (on the Facebook page) in one night because of him," Goetz said.
In August, the department posted a photo of Hill, who was wanted for beating a pregnant woman in Walbridge in front of her children. He had been indicted on eight counts of burglary, abduction and domestic violence.
"They found Clint in Elyria," Goetz said. "A Vermillion dispatcher was on Facebook and found him. Facebook was 100 percent the reason we got him."
The page has also reunited a dog owner with a missing mutt, and a lost Kindle and cell phone with people who misplaced them around the village.
Frost said Goetz does a lot of the posting on his own time. The patrolman set up an automated post on Fridays with a weekly crime tip. It doesn't cut into the manpower of the department, which has five full-time officers, seven part-time and eight auxiliary, Frost said. Often, Goetz will do posts from his phone when he's off duty.
Kolanko said he doesn't have any reservations about what's being posted, and said the site is showing residents how active their police department is.
"I'm very much a proponent of what those guys do with technology," the mayor said. "I think people have more respect for them (the officers) because they can see what they do on a daily basis."