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Utica Common Council Members Urge the Utica Police Department to Restore their Facebook Profile

Utica Police Twitter
UPD/Twitter (Because I can’t show you a screen grab of the Facebook page)

The Utica Police Department has maintained a popular Facebook profile that showcased the good work the department has done. They pass along important information to the public and reported on arrests made by the officers. But now that Facebook page is gone.

The department was asked to take down their profile last Thursday. The reason given was that some city leaders felt that the UPD Facebook page painted the city in a bad light by showcasing crime.

Now two common council members are fighting back by sponsoring a legislation that urges the page to be restored.

Backed by 1st Ward representative Frank Viscera and At-Large councilor Jim Zecca, the resolution calls on Utica Mayor Rob Palmieri to restore the page.

The resolution mentions that the UPD page was used as a case study by the International Association of Chiefs of Police about building a partnership with the community.

Further, the public’s input on Facebook has helped solve 11 cases over the first few months of 2013.

The Facebook profile is offline while the Twitter feed is still active, however there hasn’t been a post since Friday May 24.

Read the full text of the proposed resolution:

     RESOLUTION  URGING  THE  MAYOR  TO END THE       BAN  AND  RESTORE  THE  COMMUNITY  PARTERSHIP  BETWEEN THE  UTICA  POLICE  DEPARTMENT  AND  THE  PUBLIC  THAT  WAS  CREATED  WHEN  THE  CITY  BEGAN  USING FACEBOOK  IN  2010 

Sponsored by: Councilmen Vescera & Zecca

June 4, 2013

WHEREAS, the Utica Police Department ( UPD ) began using Facebook in 2010 and Twitter and YouTube in January 2011, and

WHEREAS, the International Association of Chiefs of Police ( IACP ) released a Case Study, March 15, 2011 “Utica, New York, Police Department – Creating Community Partners”, and

WHEREAS,  “Chief Mark Williams had some apprehension about using social media in his department  until he attended an IACP focus group in late summer of 2010. There, he talked with other law   enforcement executives and heard stories about solving crimes and neutralizing inaccurate or negative information on the Internet, all by using social media.”, and

WHEREAS, “74 percent of agencies report that social media has helped solve crimes in their jurisdiction.”, and

WHEREAS,  In less than four months, UPD has made 11 arrests directly from information posted on the UPD social media sites. The cases included a bank robbery and several grand larcenies.    In multiple instances, people turned themselves in, either out of fear that they would be turned   in by someone else, or out of embarrassment and wanting their picture or video taken down    from the sites. In other instances, people see the pictures and videos and contact the police department with information. Sergeant Hauck says he believes social media empowers the community to get involved in the crime fighting process.”, and

WHEREAS, “In addition to receiving valuable tips, UPD has received more general feedback     from their community. UPD anticipated some negativity when they set up their social media     sites and allowed commenting, however, the response has been overwhelmingly positive.        UPD is building relationships with their community every day and reaching new segments of    their population.”, and

WHEREAS, “Sergeant Hauck attributes a large amount of UPD’s social media success to their content. UPD’s social media sites are updated frequently with current and informative content. They also post a  wide array of stories from big to small and good to bad. Using social media gives UPD a voice to speak about all issues affecting the department whether it is an officer’s accomplishments or something that      has been negatively publicized. This level of engagement and transparency has helped to increase     UPD’s credibility in their community. It has also created a new relationship between the department and   the local media outlets, who now follow UPD’s social media streams and are able to pick and choose   stories to run.”, and

WHEREAS, “Chief Williams is impressed with how social media has enhanced relationships with the community members, stakeholders in the city, and the local media. Social media provides     the department with a new platform for UPD to reach the community and inform them as well       as a forum for the community to communicate with their police department.”, and

WHEREAS, “UPD has made great strides in their social media involvement and they plan on continuing    to move forward as the platforms and functionalities grow and evolve.”, and

WHEREAS, the Mayor abruptly and without prior notice ordered the shutdown of the UPD’s social media outlets around 3 pm Friday May 24th, 2013, and

WHEREAS, this was done according to the Utica O. D. “due to ‘strong criticism’ from local and state politicians”.

THEREFORE  BE  IT  RESOLVED, that the Common Council urges the Mayor to end the ban placed   upon the UPD using the social media outlet services including Facebook, Twitter and YouTube, and

FURTHER  RESOLVED, that the UPD be allowed to reactivate this successful crime fighting media tool without delay.

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