Officer Ryan Grelle doesn’t patrol the streets as much as he patrols the Web.
About a year ago, Grelle — public information officer for the Denton Police Department — started to post photos of some of the individuals sought on outstanding warrants on the department’s Facebook page in albums titled “Denton’s Most Wanted.”
One album is for warrants classified as Class B misdemeanors and the second is for felony warrants. Class B misdemeanors include harassment, prostitution, evading arrest, failure to pay child support, indecent exposure, minor drug possession and criminal trespass charges.
“Everyone is on social media — when you are looking for someone, what better than posting to a place that is seen by thousands?” Grelle said during an interview Thursday afternoon. “I got the department’s blessing, and that’s all I needed to move forward.”
Since the postings began, there have been 15 arrests — the last one just this past week.
“To this day, nobody knows who is turning in who,” Grelle said. “Every tipster is kept anonymous.”
The postings are not ranked and are just posted on an “as-needed” basis. Grelle said he doesn’t want to saturate the page with photos of the most-wanted individuals, so he just posts randomly with new updates.
Outstanding traffic tickets and moving violations are not currently posted on the department’s Facebook page, but Grelle isn’t ruling that out.
“Right now, I just want to make sure we get the more serious crime off the street,” Grelle said. “People don’t realize how crime evolves and just how a few ounces of marijuana can start a long chain of events that lead to serious felonies.”
The social media following has hit big within the city and the Denton Police Department’s page had 4,820 “likes” and the department’s Twitter account — which links to the “Denton’s Most Wanted” on Facebook — had 5,350 followers as of Saturday afternoon.
Grelle said the department is not only working on Facebook, but on Twitter, as well.
The social media following has hit big within the city, as the Denton Police Department’s page had 4,820 “Likes” and the department’s Twitter account — which links to the “Denton’s Most Wanted” on Facebook — had 5,350 followers as of Saturday afternoon.
“We have really been the cutting edge of social media in the area,” said Grelle. “I believe we organized the first-ever ‘tweet-a-long’ in the county.”
According to Grelle, the department was first in the county to be verified on Twitter as an “official department page,” and it ranks No. 3 in the nation on Twitter of agencies with 100-249 sworn officers.
“It’s amazing how much demand there is for this type of thing — I figured, why not do something good with it and try and make our town a safer place to live,” Grelle said. “Since this last arrest on Wednesday, I have two more possible leads already working.”
Tips can be made by liking the Denton Police Department’s Facebook page and sending a private message. All tips leading to an arrest will remain anonymous.
MEGAN GRAY can be reached at 940-566-6885. Her e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org .