The Franklin County Sheriff’s Office took a more aggressive approach to social media use in 2017.
That’s according to Sheriff Steve Pelton who noted the department has shared success stories, warned residents of crimes in their areas and sought help identifying suspects.
“It is not only for success stories but as a crime prevention measure too,” he told The Missourian.
Through its Facebook page, the sheriff’s office has warned residents of crime in their area. Pelton explained that letting the public know about incidents near their home, as a preventative measure, they can better look out for potential crimes being committed.
“If they know of a rash of burglaries they may be more diligent in locking their car doors and watching out for their neighbors,” he said. “They also may be more apt to call if they see something in the area.”
The sheriff’s department also has utilized social media to reach out to the community to help solve crimes.
On Dec. 26, the department turned to Facebook to help identify a man suspected in the theft of a truck from St. Clair.
The white Ford F-250 “service truck” was stolen Dec. 16 morning from a home in the St. Clair area. The truck is owned by Schicker Ford in Union and was in the possession of an employee.
An investigation led detectives to footage from a surveillance camera at a local store. Once the still images from the camera were shared, detectives began receiving tips and narrowed their search for the suspect.
“Through social media we are able to identify criminal activity and suspects that otherwise we may not have been able to do,” Pelton said. “It is that collaboration that is so important.”
The sheriff’s department also encourages neighborhood watch groups to set up social media pages for the group.
“They have been telling me that those are successful,” Pelton said. “It is a place where they can network and share information.”
Area Neighborhood Watch groups serve as eyes and ears for law enforcement officers and are especially valuable in rural parts of the county that are sparsely populated.
There are five active area Neighborhood Watch groups that are aided by the sheriff’s office. That includes the Beaufort group with about 30 households, and the Neier group, which has an estimated 30-40 households.
There also is a group in the Campbellton area with about 30 households, a Neighborhood Watch group in the Forest Hills subdivision off Highway 47, between Union and Washington, with about 15 households and a watch in Villa Ridge with 10 households.
Community Steps Up
Pelton noted that the sheriff’s office has had a good response using Facebook.
He said the department recently shared a post about the need for more stuffed animals to be given to children during crises, and the community “overwhelmed” the department with the plush toys.
“We will put them all to good use,” Pelton commented. “The community has been great when it comes to things like that.”
To follow the Franklin County Sheriff’s Department on Facebook, people may search for the page and click the “like” button.
“We are a community that is very supportive of law enforcement,” Pelton said. “We are in this together.”