Wednesday, February 20, 2013
Denton PD leveraging Facebook to get tips and find criminals
Since the department began using Facebook one year ago, it has made 17 arrests.
DENTON Facebook has proven to be a serious weapon in the fight against crime. After a year of posting “Denton’s Most Wanted” to the Denton Police Department’s Facebook page, 17 arrests have been made.
The Denton PD began posting in February 2012, and eight arrests were made in the first 24 hours that the listings were posted.
The Facebook page allows for the public to view the mug shot and brief information about the most wanted fugitives in Denton and then report their whereabouts to the police if they recognize them.
The public anonymously provides tips to the Denton PD and accounts for the majority of the most wanted arrests.
The Denton Police Department was one of the first in the area to reach out to tipsters through the most wanted posts, said public information officer and Facebook page manager Ryan Grelle.
At the time of print, the department’s Facebook page has over 5,000 likes and its Twitter page has over 5,500 followers.
“It’s very successful that people are actually turning in people that they know,” he said. “They want them off the streets, also.”
If the department had never posted the most wanted mugs to Facebook, then they would most likely still be looking for those 17 people, Grelle said.
All of “Denton’s Most Wanted” have warrants for their arrests and are charged with Class A or B Misdemeanors, or felonies ranging from murder to driving while intoxicated.
Other police departments, such as Dallas PD and Arlington PD, post mugs and booking information of their wanted persons to their Facebook pages, but the Denton department decided it would be best to post all of the most wanted mug shots instead of creating a short list.
The Arlington Police Department has had success as well and began posting top 10 most wanted lists in September 2012, said Zhivonni McDonnell, Arlington Police Department officer and social media coordinator.
“The benefit is that we are reaching another part of our community that might not be reached by our traditional media,” McDonnell said.
The UNT Police Department does not post most wanted to their Facebook page, but sometimes posts information on behalf of the Denton Police Department.
Social media is here to stay, and the department believes it is important to maintain a presence, Grelle said.
“I can see the benefit in having a large group of people in one space that can see it,” undeclared sophomore Chris Welhausen said.
The public can report the whereabouts of the suspects confidentially through a number of ways, including Crime Stoppers or contacting detectives at the department. Some suspects are eligible for cash rewards.
Pre-psychology sophomore Katie Lapinski had never been to the Facebook page, but said that even with the reward, it would depend on whether or not she knew the person and the crime they committed.
“If they were my friend I probably wouldn’t, but if I didn’t really know them I probably would turn them in,” Lapinski said.
Information is updated consistently and as soon as a fugitive has been apprehended their information is taken down from the page.
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