New Franklin County Sheriff stepping up use of social media to - KMOV.com

New Franklin County Sheriff stepping up use of social media to solve crime

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The Franklin County Sheriff is using Facebook more in an effort to catch criminals. Credit: Franklin Co Sheriff's Facebook Page The Franklin County Sheriff is using Facebook more in an effort to catch criminals. Credit: Franklin Co Sheriff's Facebook Page
FRANKLIN COUNTY, Mo. (KMOV.com) -

There are more posts showing up on the Facebook page for the Franklin County Sheriff's Department these days, and people are noticing.

Franklin County resident Marti Owens told News 4, "I find it useful to find out what's going on."

"It helps getting those pictures out and maybe somebody knows something and it might help," said Alicia Parker, who also lives in Franklin County. 

When newly elected sheriff, Steve Pelton, came into office he had a plan to increase the department's use of social media as a way to enlist the public's help with investigations.

"It's absolutely so important to get more eyes and ears out there, and we live in a good community here and people want to help and this is a great way that we can collaborate together," said Pelton.

Sheriff Pelton said citizens have helped the department identify suspects in surveillance photos and find the location of other suspects. On January 3, after a post about someone suspected of a vehicle theft, the information provided by the public led to an arrest in less than an hour and a half.

But the increased use of social media hasn't come without criticism. A post on Facebook this week talked about two men arrested for shoplifting at a Dollar General store in Villa Ridge, and a woman who was with them being arrested for drug possession and a probation violation, and her mug shot was with the post.

Some said showing mug shots of suspects in relatively minor crimes was an attempt to shame them. Pelton responded by saying he wouldn't try to shame a suspect and that his department is only releasing public information that's regularly given to reporters.

"We're are sharing what that media is requesting and just in an attempt to be transparent we're posting practically verbatim, what is given to the media on the releases of that," said Pelton.

The number of 'likes' on the sheriff's department's page is more than 10 percent of the number of people living in Franklin County.

"We have over 18,00 people who like our page and follow our page," said Melissa Dahms who oversees the department's Facebook page.

Pelton said the page is also a way to keep the community informed about the crime in their neighborhood, as well recognize citizens who go above and beyond to help others, and spread important safety information through humorous videos.

Pelton stressed that the more residents who follow the sheriff's department's Facebook page, the more people can help provide information that could aid investigations.


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