Updated Wed, Apr 2, 2014 3:02 pm
The Albany Police Department is on Facebook, much like other law enforcement in the area, but is taking a different approach to social media.
Police Chief Robert Deardorff started out using the department's Facebook to announce road closings and weather alerts. Since taking a class on social media and talking to citizens, he has turned the page into what it is today — a more interactive venue between the department and residents.
"With law enforcement today, there's a lot of bad press and a lot of bad publicity," Deardorff said. "What I like to do here is get the community involved."
By promoting involvement, the chief said he hopes to show the community that police officers are not to be feared.
"We're not the bad guys in the cars that come to get you," he said. "We have good days and bad days and we're human like anybody else."
Deardorff is the main administrator of the page but the other officers and other political officials also get involved.
After taking a class at Hocking College as a part of National Disaster Preparedness Training, Deardorff got to see what other agencies were posting on their sites and what responses they could get. He takes a lot of his examples from the Brimfield Twp. Police Department.
According to the 2000 census, Brimfield Twp., in Portage County, has a population of nearly 8,000 people. It's Facebook page, however, has 142,000 likes.
"They post a lot about community improvements and programs that they do, like taking (low-income) kids out shopping at Christmas time," Deardorff said.
A lot of law enforcement sites are injecting humor into their sites, including the Albany Police Department. During Christmas 2013, Deardorff posted the mugshot of The Grinch, asking the public for help finding the Santa-hatted menace.
But the site is helpful for helping to solve crimes as well, Deardorff said. He doesn't usually post activity every day, but when he thinks the public can help with a case, he looks to the site.
"When we had that rash of burglaries at the Little General Store, I went on a little rant (on Facebook) and we haven't been called back to the store in a while," he said. "Hopefully that puts the message out there that we're not going to tolerate those kinds of things."
The biggest challenge is keeping up with the site on a daily basis. Most of the time, Deardorff posts updates from home or after working his other jobs for the village.
"It's sort of a third job for you," he said.