Don’t post on Facebook, call 9-1-1
Lansford Police has a message on its Facebook page to tell people to call 9-1-1 to report crimes. Still, people post on Facebook. PHOTO ILLUSTRATION/BOB FORD
A business owner messaged a police officer about a fight on the sidewalk.
A vigilant homeowner posted footage of a burglar on Facebook, but didn’t report it to police.
An old man brought a bag of shell casings to the police station, but didn’t call 911 about a shooting.
Every police department in Carbon County has a story about a well-meaning resident who didn’t call 911 to report a crime.
The chiefs and mayors of the county want to remind residents that the quickest way to get a response for an incident is by calling 911 and reaching Carbon County Radio Communications.
Dispatchers are on duty 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.
Mayor Michael Sofranko of Jim Thorpe said he will get reports from residents over the weekend, and he asks police about them on Monday, they often didn’t hear about the call.
“They’ll say ‘nice job, but I didn’t have a call, and now it’s too late,” Sofranko said.
Lansford Police Chief Jack Soberick said his department has had success with social media, with posts about drug busts and other enforcement getting thousands of views. But they have a disclaimer at the top of their page warning people that it is not where they should be making reports if they want to get in touch with the department.
“Pinned to the top of our Facebook page is ‘Do not report here, this is not monitored 24/7,’ a big disclaimer, and people still put stuff right there.”
Soberick said that social media has created an expectation of instantaneous contact — whether it’s ordering a pizza, or reaching police. He said police have to adapt to that mindset, or attempt to change the habits of residents.
“We’re all old. That is today’s current mindset,” he said.,
Chiefs said that calling police directly isn’t a great substitute either. Most police departments will have a disclaimer on their voice mail telling someone having an emergency to call 911.
Lehighton Police Chief Brian Biechy said the recent river rescue involving more than 50 missing boaters was keyed off when someone crossing the McCall Bridge called the department directly. In that case, an officer happened to get the call, but there’s no telling how many times calls have gone unanswered.
Biechy said when he comes in each Monday, there is always a hang-up from the weekend, which presumably could have been someone asking for assistance.
He said his department doesn’t have the manpower to staff an online tip line.
Sofranko said that social media has positives and benefits, and he’s not opposed to it.
“We’ll take the good and the bad, but ultimately the police can’t be sitting there monitoring social media,” he said.