The Portage County Sheriff John Charewicz has endorsed the creation of a Facebook page by the employees of the Sheriff’s Office.
“The intent,” Sheriff Charewicz explained, “is to create a way of getting information directly to the public, to keep them informed as to what the Sheriff’s Office is doing, and be able to interact with the citizens we serve.” The page is not intended for citizens to report crimes, replace the official County web site, or to substitute for the normal methods of communications with the Office.
Chief Deputy Daniel Kontos commented, “This will be a more informal, unofficial method for the deputies and other staff to reach out to the community.” He added, “We really were not intending to do this right away. We were taking our time, experimenting and testing as we went along. It turned out that the one and only test of a ‘like’ [an on-line endorsement of a comment or photograph] was visible to only one other person, who in turn ‘liked’ it herself, and less than 24 hours later, we had over 250 ‘likes.’ We were over 400 after just 2 days. There was tremendous interest and support right off the bat, so we decided to start it right away.”
Facebook has been used by many organizations to communicate with others. Sheriff’s Office officials decided that, rather than have the usual limited contact with the citizens, they would take a proactive step in reaching out to the public. “It will be an interesting experiment,” Sheriff Charewicz added.
Kontos cautioned that due to the hasty start, “The page may not be as complete as we had hoped right now, but we’ll get there. We appreciate everyone’s patience and encouragement as we try something new.”
The Facebook page will be supported by staff within the Sheriff’s Office during off times, as not to take away from their regular duties. “The intent,” Kontos said, “is to provide more information to the public, and not to substitute for anything we are doing now.”