If you’re up to no good in this pocket of northeast Ohio, especially in a witless way, you’re risking not only jail time or a fine but a swifter repercussion with a much larger audience: You’re in for a social media scolding from police Chief David Oliver and some of his small department’s 51,000 Facebook fans.
And Oliver does not mince words.
In postings interspersed with community messages and rants, the Brimfield Township chief takes to task criminals and other ne’er-do-wells — his preferred term is “mopes,” appropriated from police TV shows and an old colleague who used it — for the stupid, the lazy and the outright unlawful. Even an ill-considered parking choice can spur a Facebook flogging.
“If you use a handicapped space and you jump out of the vehicle, all healthy-like, as if someone is dangling free cheeseburgers on a stick, expect people to stare at you and get angry,” Oliver wrote last year. “You are milking the system and it aggravates those of us who play by the rules. Ignoring us does not make you invisible. We see you, loser.”
His humor, sarcasm and blunt opinion fueled a tenfold increase in the Facebook page’s likes in the past year, bringing the total to more than four times the 10,300 residents the department serves. It’s among the most-liked local law enforcement pages in the country, trailing only New York, Boston and Philadelphia police, according to the International Association of Chiefs of Police Center for Social Media.
Not bad for a guy who initially hoped maybe 500 locals would pay attention when he noticed other businesses’ pages and decided to start his own three years ago.
Facebook posting, May 16, 2013: “I call criminals mopes. I do not comment on them being ugly, smelly or otherwise beauty impaired ... even though some are. I do not comment on their education, social status, color, sex, origin or who they marry. I care about crime and character. If you come to Brimfield and commit a crime we are all going to talk about it. The easiest way to not be called a criminal is to not be one. It is not calculus.”