ODESSA - Police departments across the U.S. have started playing the part of journalists; posting about their news online.
Now the Odessa Police Department is joining the trend. Officials said it's a way to solve cases faster and to connect directly with the public.
It all started when predominately detectives started actively monitoring online posts about the department put out by others, and found that social media offered huge benefits.
"There might be a key piece of evidence that's retrieved from just one post, whether it's a witness we didn't know about or a significant crime tip," Public Information Officer Corporal Steve Lesueur said.
But he said it was a problem to be at the mercy of the media, and to have to track their sites. So now the department has found their own platform.
"It can originate with us and then we can put it out there and then it can just have a ripple effect," he said. "Whether we put it on ours or there's it's gonna get out there eventually, but either way it is effective."
And the posts will have a little bit of everything you'd see in the "crime" section of a paper: "first and foremost news releases, missing persons, runaways if necessary, and anything that investigators ask us to put up immediately is going to get disseminated very quickly," he said. But with one key difference.
"Unfortunately, a lot of the comments are negative, however there are a lot of positive things that do happen and it is our intention to put a lot of those positive stories up as well," LeSueur said.
Officials are hoping the online presence can also fill the void of their officer shortage, kind of like a virtual cop. The account is shared with the city, and it's managed by the PIOs of the department and the city.
"We have seen a tremendous amount of support from the public and we just hope that it continues to grow. And we want to spread that word that the city does have a Facebook page and specifically for police, our goal is to use it because we know how effective it can be," he said.
The page might be a little bare now in terms of updates by the PD, but they're still in the beginning stages and working towards a goal of three posts daily. But that doesn't mean that the need for traditional methods of catching the bad guys are going away.