New Milford using Facebook to nab suspects

NEW MILFORD — Police officials looking to reduce the number of outstanding warrants are using social media for help.

Like many area police departments, New Milford has dozens of outstanding warrants on misdemeanor charges such as probation violations or failure to appear in court. In an effort to reduce that backlog, the department began posting information about the warrants on Facebook last month.

Since beginning the effort, the department has received enough tips from the community to serve 34 warrants, including 13 last week alone.

“We started using the social media program after the chief asked me to find ways to reduce the number of wanted persons in our community,” said Lt. Jeffrey Covello, who heads the

department’s detective division.

Covello said the list includes only warrants New Milford police are charged with serving. Someone living in town but wanted by another law enforcement agency likely won’t appear on the list.

According to the state courts website, 134 people with New Milford addresses have outstanding warrants. Other towns have similar numbers, including Bethel, where more than 90 people are wanted on outstanding warrants.

New Milford’s effort is the latest attempt by an area police department to use social media in novel ways.

In recent years, as the popularity of sites like Facebook and Twitter have increased, so have their use by local police departments.

The Danbury Police Department recently posted a video on its social media pages in an effort to reach more potential candidates as the department looks to fill its ranks. Others post photos of suspects or publish missing persons reports.

Monroe Police Chief John Salvatore, the former president of the Connecticut Police Chiefs Association, said just about every department in the state is using social media in some form.

“It helps us solve crimes, and it helps with community outreach,” he said. “I think everyone sees the value in it.”