Looking for a new Facebook friend? You may want to give the Nassau County Police Department a try.
The department's Facebook fan page went live Thursday, joining a number of other police departments nationwide that hope a presence on the popular social networking site will help them distribute information to the public and collect community crime tips.
"This is really keeping up with the rest of society," said Second Nassau Police Deputy Commissioner William Flanagan. "It's about maintaining and fostering our relationship with our community."
Flanagan said the department's page, which had more than 300 fans by Thursday afternoon, is part of his department's effort to keep residents up-to-date with ongoing police initiatives and stories of interest. In addition to the department's contact information, Nassau's page also contains information about officers' three-pronged approach to combating heroin, it's gun buy back program, as well as several anti-heroin parental awareness ads.
Suffolk County Police and the New York State Police have pages similar to Nassau's.
Each site features photos, news releases and upcoming events. The pages also include contact information and usually offer a link to the department's official Web site. Most authorities' pages also allow users and fans to post comments. Officials said they hope some of the user feedback will help officers solve crimes.
According to Sgt. John Johnson, who maintains Suffolk Police's page and posts information daily, Suffolk County Police launched their Facebook page six months ago and plan to start a Spanish language page by next week. Its site, which has more than 1,400 fans, includes information about upcoming driving courses and resources for people with disabilities.
"We want to provide as much community outreach as possible," Johnson said.
In Nassau, Flanagan said officers hope to continue developing their site by adding tools such as links to Crime Stoppers.