The Star Beacon; Ashtabula, Ohio

Local News

May 21, 2013

GOTL gets ‘likeable’ on Facebook

GENEVA-ON-THE-LAKE — Village police officers are taking a new approach to an old problem — finding wanted criminals.

The department has taken to social media with warrant alerts in the ongoing quest to satisfy criminal charges and court appearances, GOTL Police Sgt. Brian Sterrick said.

“I’m in touch with a lot of police departments from around the region, and in a lot of cities, it is a growing trend for law enforcement agencies to put the names and faces of wanted people on Facebook or other social media sites to get tips,” he said. “So we didn’t invent this way of finding wanted people, but we ran with it. Not a lot of departments around here are doing it.”

Sterrick said the village’s “likeable” postings have been “very successful.” The department page has 882 “likes.”

“We get tips on where people are and some people see themselves on Facebook and turn themselves in,” he said.

Sterrick said the village officers make warrant arrests a priority.

“We are aggressively out picking people up,” he said. “If you are wanted, we come and get you. We pursue these people from everything from simple traffic violations to felonies. Our attitude is that if we are going to spend the time to enforce the law and you don’t show up to court, we are going to get you.”

Sterrick said the officers are also working around limited jail space by pickup up wanted people during the day and taking them straight to court.

“That way we completely pass up the jail holding time,” he said.

The officers also use the Facebook status updates to alert residents about everything from community events to road closings and often post interesting police reports once a week.

“We have found Facebook to be a useful tool for the community — something that doesn’t take a lot of time, but gives us another way to communicate with residents and clear some warrants at the same time.”

To “like” the GOTL Police Department Facebook page and receive updates on outstanding warrants and police reports, search Geneva-on-the-Lake Police Department on Facebook.

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