The City of Sylvania Police Division is reaching out to local media outlets in hopes to boost their social media presence to arrest suspected criminals.
On July 18 a Facebook user posted a Facebook comment on the Sylvania Police Division’s site beneath a photo of a suspect wanted in connection with thefts in multiple cities in the area. She said the suspect, pictured talking on a cell phone in a store with bag in hand, had been seen at Meijer grocery store in Rossford the night before.
That tip, Sylvania City Police Sgt. Joshua Seney said, was given after two media outlets, The Blade's community site ourtownsylvania.com and Sylvania Advantage shared the photos of wanted suspects on their Web sites.
The unique visitors to their site quadrupled in 15 minutes through the shares and re-shares that visitors posted. Also the page gained about 50 more “likes” bringing the total followers to 360.
Earlier that day, Sylvania Police released a statement to about seven major media outlets asking for them to assist police in sharing information and photos of suspects on their Web sites.
“This is an attempt to expand our audience, and people are using Facebook as a form of seeking information,” he said. The request to the media is to expand the pool of viewers to identify suspects or to reach potential witnesses, he explained.
The Sylvania Police Department has been on Facebook since 2012, and Chief William Rhodus said they are aware of its benefits as a community outreach tool.
“It’s a trend that law enforcement is using in investigations and it has worked well,” he said. Chief Rhodus said they plan on posting pictures to the page at least twice a week.
Sergeant Seney said the decision to reach out to the media was because of the organization’s established presence in the public sphere and “this is a role where both the police and media can help each other.”
Another bonus to working with the media is reaching a broad audience, he said.
Both men said that asking the media to refer to the Facebook page is not replacing the departments face-to-face meetings with the media, especially regarding heinous crimes or murder. Rather the posts, relating to felonious activity, are one additional tool in an attempt to find those who steal identities, or misuse credit cards.
The police also work with investigators with area police departments to pursue a suspect as a team. When those efforts don’t turn up a suspect, they often turn to the public for assistance.
In addition to posting photos of wanted people, police are also posting links to articles or governmental Web sites that provide information about scams and cyber tips.
The page at www.facebook.com/SylvaniaPoliceDivision is monitored by Sergeant Seney, Chief Rhodus, and Captain Rick Schnoor.
Contact Natalie Trusso Cafarello at: 419-206-0356 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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