Brimfield Police Chief David Oliver says he doesn’t really have a Facebook strategy. But with 35,000 fans for a department serving fewer than 11,000 Portage County residents, he’s obviously doing something right. Oliver calls it how he sees it, frequently talking about his department’s crackdown on “mopes” (translation: numbskulls who commit crimes and leech off society). He shares stories in the kind of language friends of cops hear often, but the public rarely does. A recent excerpt: When you come to our fine community to steal, please don’t. Next, if you decide to … here’s a pointer. When you walk into a store looking like you weigh 100 pounds … and after 15 minutes you look like you weigh 500 … we call that a clue. … Two mopes in custody for theft and obstruction … clothes recovered. Mopes have reservations at the county bed and breakfast. Oliver’s online voice is that of an enforcer, but one who doesn’t necessarily follow all the rules either. On the Facebook page, he explains his legal staff urged him to have a “take down” or “removal” policy for offensive posts. He added the next line himself: “I declined both.”
Q. How did all this start?
A. I didn't do a ton of research, but I decided there's no reason that a police department shouldn't have a Facebook page. The initial concept was to engage 500 or so people in the community and give them news and information about what's going on.
Q. Five hundred? You have three times as many followers as those you serve.
A. Yeah, we have 35,000 now. [Editors' Note: The Cleveland Police Department has 7,800 followers.] ... I asked everyone [a couple months ago] why they were here. The theme was "You keep it real." To me that is, we're telling you the truth, and it makes them laugh during the day.
Q. How has Facebook affected the department's work?
A. We've done the Christmas Shop With A Cop for 10 years. We've always been able to take 60 or 70 kids. … This year, we had 137 kids. Without posting on Facebook, I'm not sure this anonymous lady comes into my office with a $1,000 check.
Q. Any mopes mention Facebook?
A. We had a theft and a drug case that took place in one of our stores here. He said, "Hey Chief Oliver, I read your Facebook page all the time." I said, "If you read our page all the time and know what we're about, why would you commit a crime here?" He said he didn't know he was in Brimfield.