The Waterford Police Department has added a new weapon in its arsenal: a Facebook page.
Granted, the department has had the page for years. But in the last few months, the department has really amped up its use, after training and an event spurred it.
“We want the community to know the good things we are doing, instead of having it stay in our four walls,” Waterford Police Chief Murray Pendleton said.
Waterford Police Lt. Brett Mahoney runs the page. Mahoney said there are two goals of using social media: to show the whole picture of the police department and to catch criminals.
The New Focus
This summer, Mahoney went to an FBI training academy in Virginia. There, officers from other departments talked about how they used their Facebook pages to build a relationship with the public and possibly even catch criminals, he said.
Mahoney came back to the Waterford Police Department ready to use the Waterford Police Facebook page more, but an event spurred it along even further. On October 2nd, the department shared a picture of a man that they believed was spying on people in the changing rooms of the Crystal Mall. The picture was shared by 153 people and “liked” by another 183, and the department realized it was a good way to spread information.
Despite people recognizing the man, no one came forward identifying him and the detective division wound up catching the alleged criminal, Mahoney said. The next step is getting people to come forward, but by spreading pictures of people police are looking for – such as pictures taken from security cameras of alleged serial shoplifters – it increases the chance of a person identifying them, he said.
“There is a lot more of the public than there is of us,” Mahoney said. “The more we can get it out, the more likely it is somebody recognizes them.”
Not Just Catching Criminals
There is more than pictures from security cameras of people allegedly stealing from Waterford’s many big box stores on the page. In the past month, there has been a post about how Great Neck first graders came into the department and met with Santa (played by Waterford Police Officer Robert Strohl), several officer profiles and a post honoring the late John Fratus.
The idea is to improve the relationship between the community and the department, Mahoney said. Most of time, people have only bad interactions with the police, and the goal of the Facebook page is to show that the police do more than just catch criminals, Mahoney said.
“This isn't just the Waterford Police Department's Facebook page, it's a page for the Waterford community," Mahoney said.
To follow the Waterford Police Department on Facebook, click here.