PICTOU – Two local police departments are reaching out to their residents through social media.
The towns of Westville and Stellarton have both launched their own Facebook pages and so far the endeavour has been a success, said Westville Police Chief Don Hussher, who is also acting police chief for Stellarton.
“It’s a new initiative that we started a few months ago. In Westville, it was brought up by one of the board members and in Stellarton it was started by an officer. We had the two requests coming at us and we launched them both at the time same time,” he said.
Hussher said sites usually get between 300 and 600 views and some posts catch the public’s eye more than others. He said he first realized how good an investigative tool social media could be after the Westville department posted information about an alleged break-and-enter.
“It was unbelievable how fast the word got out and talk about what was taken and so on,” he said. “ We said, ‘wow that's fast.’ We didn’t realize how many people are connected. We looked at other ways we could use it.”
He added that a recent post of someone allegedly stealing gas from a local gas station got about 10,000 shares on social media.
Hussher said the departments are also going to use it for educational purposes and promote such things as school bus safety and crosswalk safety on the sites.
“We see lots of positive comments. It’s a good investigational tool and a good tool in getting the message for public education,” he said.
The two separate Facebook pages can be found under Stellarton Police Service and Westville Police Service.