Some first responders in our area are turning to social media to help solve crimes. Technology is changing the way Wood County officers keep you safe.
To protect a city 18,000 strong, Wisconsin Rapids police have a lot of ground to cover. So in February, they turned to Facebook to extend their reach.
"There's 160-thousand some people that are connected to the friends of our page so we have the potential to reach that number of people if we needed to or if other people shared that information with their friends," said Wisconsin Rapids Police Lt. Brian Krzykowski.
One of the segments the department uses most is Facebook Crimesolvers. Officers said citizens have helped them solve eight crimes so far, finding suspects and stolen cars. The first success happened within weeks of starting the page: the case of a counterfeit five dollar bill.
"We posted the information on our website. Within 20 minutes, we had a gentleman who came into our department telling us, I know who made that bill," said Krzykowski. "And it turned out that was who we were looking for."
Authorities put up pictures without names, reminding Facebook visitors each person is innocent until proven guilty.
Wood County Sheriff's department deputies use technology too. That includes a website, partnership with the county's crime stoppers and the Nixle program -- which sends people alerts about things like weather, police and construction. But officers said using social media is just one piece of the crime-solving puzzle.
"It doesn't replace our officers getting out of their cars and talking with the community and showing up in community functions and having that old fashioned person to person contact," said Wood County Sheriff's department Lt. Quentin Ellis.
As they look to the future, officers said they hope to see more opportunities to connect with people.
"I think more police departments would find the value in it," said Krzykowski. "Especially in locating citizens or criminals that we're trying to find and staying up to date on the information that their police departments want them to have right now."
With each "like," law enforcement can reach more people as they solve crimes in Wood County.