Mineral Wells Index, Mineral Wells, TX

April 18, 2014

Social media part of PD’s varied arsenal


Mineral Wells Index

— By TODD GLASSCOCK



Criminals seem to like bragging online of their misdeeds. A recent story out of Florida claimed a man not only confessed on Facebook of murdering his wife, but also posted pictures of the body on the social media site.

While the Mineral Wells Police Department hasn't seen such crimes as murder confessed over Facebook, they do use the social media site sometimes when they are trying to identify a suspect, said Det. Neil Davis.

Though Facebook isn't a regular source of investigation, the police department does use the City of Mineral Wells' CrimeReports site, in particular as a data resource on crime trends, said Lt. Randy Wright.

“We use it weekly, if not daily on the administrative side,” he said.

The CrimeReports site is accessible publicly online at the city's site at http://www.mineralwellstx.gov by selecting the E-Services/CrimeReports tab. The site unfolds a map of the city tagged with various brief incident reports such as thefts from vehicles and assaults. It also tags addresses of registered sex offenders.

The police department tracks trends such as a how many burglaries occur within a certain part of the city, Wright said. Information like this is particularly useful for police efforts such as Project 365, part of the National Night Out program that targets blighted or crime-ridden areas, he added.

Project 365 is a four-phase effort in a selected area of town to help reduce crime and generally clean up and restore an area to make it safe and livable, said police officer Patrick Adams. This is the second year the program has been in effect.

Last year the program covered a roughly 24-block area from S.E. 6th Avenue to S.E. 14th Avenue, east to west, and Martin Luther King Jr. Street to Municipal Highway 379, north to south, he said. When the project ended last year, results showed that crime in the area was reduced by 6 percent, more than 50,000 pounds of trash were picked up and several dilapidated properties were fixed up.

Besides helping with Project 365, the city's website provides police with several sources to follow up leads on criminal activity citywide, Wright said.

Citizens can anonymously tip police about possible criminal activity, he said. They can fill out an online form, send police a text message, or download an iPhone or Android app.

Tips most often are on narcotics-related activity, he said. These and other tips have been helpful. “We have had tips help us lodge a case.”

He wants to assure people that tips provided to police are anonymous. He said text messaging the police in particular often worries people, but the messages that come in through the system are encrypted and police only see the message, not a name or phone number.

“We truly don't know who it is,” he said.