News 12 at 6 o'clock / Wednesday, Feb. 20, 2013
AUGUSTA, Ga. (WRDW) -- You sign on to check on friends and family, but now, the Sheriff's Office wants you to use Facebook to help them solve crimes.
The Richmond County Sheriff's Office has rolled out a new Facebook page, but they say this is just the first step in a new technology plan to help them help you.
Tony Gentry lives in Richmond County but works in IT in Columbia County, so he knows firsthand how important it is to keep up with technology.
"The instantaneous thing is the main factor. I, myself, want to know what's happening, I'm the nosy guy in my neighborhood," he said.
Which is why he was one of the first people to "like" the Richmond County Sheriff Office's new Facebook page.
Lt. Lewis Blanchard with the Richmond County Sheriff's Office says, "They've already received almost 1,600 likes so far or followers."
The page has only been up for three weeks, but feedback has already led to tips and arrests.
"A situation on a burglary, where someone gave us information over Facebook. We've received information where we've dispatched deputies and animal control to take care of some dogs that were not being taken care of," Blanchard said.
Albert Hinson has a background in law enforcement, and he says this can be a great tool to fight crime.
"It can have your community working together with your law enforcement to be a little bit better organized," he said.
But he says they'll have to be careful and monitor the site closely
"There could be a lot of harassment, from the community and law enforcement," he said.
Facebook isn't the only technology the Sheriff's Office is rolling out. They're also working on a new and improved website.
"Right now, basically, we meet the minimum requirement required by law. The Sheriff's Office is responsible for listing sex offender registry and for inmate inquiry, so right now that's basically what we have," Blanchard said.
The website will offer instant text alerts that the community can opt into to instantly alert you about crime.
"If you have that text message come across, and you happen to see that it was a black Dodge Charger, you might get the tag number for us that we weren't able to get," Blanchard said.
Something information lovers like Gentry are thrilled about.
"If they start their own website, instant news to me is the best thing there is," he said.