Officers think the effort potentially could have contributed to four arrests that might not have happened otherwise.
Almost every Wednesday since May 31, Kettering police have posted a mugshot to the department’s Facebook page of a person of interest in an ongoing investigation.
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Several law enforcement agencies across the country participate in the #WantedWednesday posts, including the Baltimore Police Department, Clovis California Police Department and the Federal Bureau of Investigations.
Kettering Public Information Officer John Jung said he thinks the initiative helps law enforcement, even if it’s just to get information to the public.
“I believe they work,” he said. “It serves a great purpose and helps get potential criminals off the streets.”
Jung said the social media posts can’t be directly attributed to the four arrests made because they don’t categorize calls as tips from the posts, but he said all of the arrests did come after the mugshots were posted on the Facebook page. He said residents have reacted well to the posts.
Arthur Jipson, associate professor of sociology at the University of Dayton, said social media use by police departments to assist in investigations is a fairly new concept.
“Social media is an imperfect tool, and law enforcement has — up until recently — tried to avoid using,” Jipson said.
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Jipson, who has worked as a professor at the university since 2001, said social media posts can be beneficial, but some of the pitfalls that exist will likely always remain.
He compared it to a tip line. “You’re inviting any and all interested parties to share information which may or may not be relevant to your police investigation,”Jipson said.
Other limitations of social media use, according to Jipson, include potentially sharing too much information that could compromise a police investigation.
Kettering seems to have found a method of sharing just enough information, as the weekly mugshot posts seem to be working.
Wednesday evening, Ted Mullins was arrested on suspicion of four counts of rape and one count of kidnapping, related to a 2009 case. Jung said DNA samples were just recently traced back to him. After receiving the information about Mullins, Jung said the department decided to post his mug shot Tuesday to get the information out as quickly as possible.
“We got a good response,” he said. “People seemed to be interested.”
Jung said the post had more than 15,000 views and more than 220 people on Facebook shared the post.
Three others arrested after Kettering featured them on #WantedWednesday were: Michael Guthrie, wanted on a probation violation; Kimberly Dameron, wanted on suspicion of theft, and Tabitha Carroll, wanted on charges of possession of a drug abuse instrument.
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