Police use the page to share information about arrests, wanted persons, community policing events and more.
The Evesham Township Police Department created its own page on Facebook in February 2010.
At the time, the department’s goal was to connect to the community and use the page to spread information to the public.
Now, in addition to having reached its eighth birthday, the page hit another milestone this week when it surpassed 30,000 individual likes.
“It’s been just a huge resource for us and another tool in our arsenal for crime solving,” Lt. Joseph Friel said as he reflected on how using Facebook has helped the department these past eight years.
Friel said using Facebook has allowed the department to directly share information and photographs Evesham’s community wants to see, whether it’s using the page to post information about a recent arrest, asking the public to share information about a wanted person or even just promoting community policing events.
According to Friel, an average post by the department involving an arrest or wanted person can reach anywhere from 30,000 to 100,000 people.
With that reach, Friel said the page has become a valuable asset in helping the department gain information about wanted individuals.
If the department has a clear photograph of an unknown person to share on the page, Friel said the department is, on average, able to identify that person within an hour of posting the information.
“When we’re looking for a suspect, it usually gets the most attention because people are sharing that picture to their friends and family,” Friel said. “If it’s a good quality picture, more times than not, we’re able to identify that person.”
For a period of time around 2013 into 2014, department officials said the page was even the largest municipal Facebook page in the state.
While the page no longer holds that distinction, Friel said he views the success of the page as a result of the department’s early adoption of the platform.
“I think for us, we were one of the first departments to really buy into it,” Friel said. “We wanted to get our information out there on social media, and it grew quickly. We’d had a pretty good fan base in the beginning and it just slowly grew and grew.”
According to Friel, when the department launched the page, Evesham Police studied other agencies’ early explorations into social media and reasons they might have been unsuccessful.
Friel said the department eventually came to the conclusion other pages at the time simply weren’t keeping current with their postings, so the ETPD page could stand out with consistent updates.
“Each day, we have to put something new on there. We can’t let it get stale,” Friel said. “I’m pretty proud that since 2010 we’ve always tried to put new information and pictures on there that our community would want to see.”
As for the post on the page that reached the most users in the past eight years, Friel recalls a post from December of two years ago that reached 8 million people.
Although the post involved information about a man sneaking into people’s homes at night, the post actually had nothing to do with criminal activity.
“We sent a post out saying we had a Santa sighting on our radar,” Friel said. “It got kids excited, and it really went viral. That was our largest reach that we’ve had.”