Tyler police using Facebook page to warn motorists

Published on Thursday, 24 July 2014 09:25 - Written by Kenneth Dean, kdean@tylerpaper.com

Tyler police are hoping to raise their community presence through the department’s Facebook page, even warning motorists where traffic patrol officers will be prowling.

Police spokesman Don Martin said the department has had a Facebook page for years but only started using it daily about a month ago.

“We are posting daily where some of our traffic units will be working as a warning to motorists,” Martin said. “So if you had looked at Facebook that day, you could say to yourself, ‘I know where they are going to be.’”

But it’s not just about traffic. The department is posting about everything from scams targeting the area to humorous photos.

One photo posted to the department’s page Wednesday showed officer Chuck Barber holding a pig, which the officer caught as part of a real police call in March, Martin said.

“This wasn’t some staged picture, but a picture taken after Chuck caught the pig,” he said.

Martin wouldn’t disclose the meaning behind the photo caption: “Have you ever seen a better looking pig?”

“This was the idea of a few people here, and we will just leave the meaning up to the individual who sees the photo,” he said laughing. “We put that in there to show we, too, have a sense of humor and show that we are just like everyone else.”

Other area law enforcement agencies have Facebook pages and use them daily to pass along news.

Smith County Precinct 4 Constable John Smith posted a photo of a man wanted for child support evasion and then posted several days later the man had been caught.

“I got the tip through the Facebook post in an anonymous message,” Smith said. “But it is helping, and about 50 percent of my tips on these cases are coming from tips on the Facebook account, so, yeah, it is working.”

Smith said the photo of the pig and Barber was a great idea to loosen people up to know that they can trust police, hopefully leading to better relations between officers and community.

Martin said he hoped more people would view the page daily, and he promised there would be additional funny posts. As of Wednesday, the page had 2,482 likes.

“This is just another avenue for us to get the information out and being more transparent about where the department’s traffic units are going to be and what is going on in the city,” he said. “We want it to be informative, but we also don’t want to be serious all of the time.”