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Step one: Add the Logan Police Department on Facebook. Step two: Solve crimes.

January 26th, 2016 Posted in Logan News, Public Safety

By Jackson Murphy

You are no Sherlock Holmes, no Tin Tin, no Scooby Gang.

But if you’re a part of Cache Valley, you could help solve crimes.

Since it started using Facebook in 2014, the Logan City Police Department has made about two-dozen posts asking for the public’s help to solve a crime in the community.

The tactic has seen a lot of success.

“We usually identify people, and pretty quickly as well,” Capt. Tyson Budge said.

The posts — generally still shots of suspects taken by surveillance cameras — are usually only accompanied with information about the suspected crime and contact information for tips. That’s been enough information, though, to help solve more than half of the crimes, some in record time.

On Sept. 1, for instance, the department used Facebook to ask for the public’s help in identifying a couple in a fraud case. “The individuals were identified in a speedy seven minutes,” Budge said.

Detective Andrew Soelberg said police can’t know everyone who is coming and going through Logan. That’s where the community comes in; thousands of eyes from the valley and beyond help to identify suspects.

Citizens are keen to help; the posts usually muster dozens of comments and sometimes hundreds of shares. LCPD’s highest shared post reached around 50,000 views.

“We rely on the community really heavily for support and it’s clear our community wants to be a part of the solution,” Soelberg said. “They know victims of similar crimes and want to help out. Their active involvement has been awesome. We receive a lot of responses.”

The process is simple once the department’s command staff has decided the post would be acceptable and useful.

“We try to be very cautious, if our suspects are juveniles, if the crime is of such a nature that it is going to be socially unacceptable or embarrassing to them or their family,” Budge said.

From there officers wait — but usually not for long — for their first tip. Sometimes hundreds come in.

“We haven’t had one yet that has been a dead end,” Budge said. “It is usually pretty quickly with 200 responses and 50 of them are the same, from there we have a pretty good idea we are on the right track.”

There are some detractors. One user replied: “Solve crimes yourself, that’s why you get paid with our tax money, not to ask people on Facebook if they’ll identify them for you.”

Budge rejects that notion.

“There are 120,000 people in this valley,” he said. “A lot of things we do don’t make everyone happy, but we need everybody’s help. It’s our community.”

While social media is a newer tool, Soelberg said, sharing photos certainly isn’t a new police tactic.

“When we think of a wanted sign, we think of a hand-drawn poster in the Old West hung at a corner store,” he said. “Instead of a corner store, it’s on Facebook where everyone is looking.”

Information about crime prevention, community hazards and the chance to help LCPD identify suspects is available at the department’s Facebook page: www.facebook.com/loganpolicedept.

Scholarship providers to the Utah State University Department of Journalism and Communication may republish articles from Hard News Café at any time. Media entities that do not donate to the department’s scholarship fund are asked to refrain from the use of Hard News Café articles until 72 hours after initial publication. If used in full or part, the authorship of the student reporter should be noted in a byline or tagline. To donate to the department’s scholarship fund, visit https://www.usu.edu/giving/.

-mdl

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