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South Point PD Facebook page likely to return

SOUTH POINT — A Facebook page started about a year ago for the South Point Police Department was recently suspended by village officials.

The page was used by the department to alert the community about crimes in the village and to encourage community involvement in helping to solve those crimes. SPPD chief Chris Mahjer said the page was disbanded when its operator decided to post personal feelings and opinions on the department’s page.

“It was supposed to be for informational purposes only,” he said. “We didn’t want it to become a political soapbox. The individual running the page knew his posts were representative of the department. The controversial post he made was obviously a personal opinion and should have been posted on his personal page, not the department’s.”

The post in question has since been removed but was critical of the lack of funding the police department received from the village. That funding was the subject of the council meeting on Tuesday, but several residents also voiced their opinion that they want to see the page come back.

“We used the page as a police blotter,” village resident Patty Dolin said. “It was a great tool to keep us informed. It would tell us the areas that people were in and things we could look out for.”

Mayor Ron West and chief Mahjer said they understood how vital of a tool the page could be but said it could not continue to run unfiltered.

“It wasn’t the mayor’s intention to take a tool from the community,” Mahjer said. “But we have got to come up with a policy a criteria for which we monitor the page. The mayor felt it needed some kind of regulation and I agree with him.”

West also offered an alternative.

“The police department has a website,” he said. “It will be used and is available to the public right now.”

Aside from the posting of personal issues there was also some discussion of posting suspects’ names and asserting guilt before anyone had went to trial for the crimes.

“We have to be very structured with what can be said,” Mahjer said. “We can’t say anything on there that the media can’t say on their websites.”

Updates on the page are likely to return but not before a set of guidelines are developed to monitor the page’s activity.

“There is high probability that the page is coming back,” Mahjer said. “The mayor and I just have to get together and come up with a way to regulate the page. The page has been a big help but it was just a case of a good thing showing its bad side. We just have to clean it up.”