Central Maine police departments are using social media to share information with the public, find suspects and help solve crimes.

“Most people have Facebook accounts, and sometimes when we’re trying to locate someone, it helps us very much,” Waterville police Chief Joseph Massey said Monday.

Having the social media account allows the department to share information with the public about special events and to update people on significant investigations, Massey said.

“It’s a great tool,” he said. “We’ve had it for about a year, and it gets used by members of the general public to keep up on things the Police Department is doing.”

The department’s page had 2,325 “likes” Monday afternoon.

Skowhegan police use Facebook for two-way communication with the public.

If residents have a tip for police, for instance, they may contact the department on Facebook, according to Deputy Chief Dale Lancaster.

If there’s a scam out there, police can get the word out to the public quickly on Facebook, he said.

“I think it’s important,” he said. “I feel law enforcement needs to utilize this media in today’s society.”

Lancaster said the department constantly is looking at how information is best handled on Facebook.

“There’s always questions of quality control that have to be addressed and how the material is vetted before it goes out,” he said.

The department was “liked” 131 times Monday afternoon on Facebook.

Farmington police Chief Jack Peck said his department does not yet use Facebook but is working toward it.

“I’d like to start up a Facebook or Twitter account this fall,” he said. “I think nationally, departments are looking at social media to get information out to the public and also to communicate one-on-one with the public.”

He also is looking at Nixle, a free, real-time service for law enforcement and other emergency services that would allow the department to put information out quickly to people’s phones if, for instance, a serious accident occurs overnight and a road is closed.


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