Matthews Police create videos with photos of wanted suspects, hoping social media will help solve cases

Matthews Police create videos with photos of wanted suspects, hoping social media will help solve cases
New video campaign to find wanted suspects (Source: Matthews Police Department)

MATTHEWS, N.C. (WBTV) - In a small police department, officers need all the help they can get to catch people who are wanted.

The question is, how do they get people’s attention?

The department says comparing to this time last year, violent crime is down 16% but they’re seeing a 1.4% uptick in overall crime. They say most of their cases involve property crimes and retail thefts.

They say officers are making more arrests because the department is focusing more on analytics- sending officers where crimes are likely to happen.

In other cases - they need help finding those who are wanted.

The Matthews Police Department is trying out an idea: posting videos showing photos of suspects on social media.

The series started in April with “Find ‘em Friday.”

“And that’s to basically show the people that we’re looking for currently that have active arrest warrants for whatever crime may be,” said Officer Tim Aycock.

Police say they decided on social media because that’s where you can find most people.

“How do we kinda summarize everything into one to capture your attention for a minute or a two cause that’s the problem these days – our internet attention span is very short and we have so much information everywhere,” said Officer Aycock. “So as a police department we push these things out individually, these cases for people we’re looking for whatever reason.”

“So we try to think of how we do put that together in one package quickly to show everybody so if someone does recognize them and knows where they’re at they can help us out.”

Some residents in Matthews told WBTV the idea makes sense.

“I think it’s great,” said one woman. “Our generation, our world is all over the internet, social media.”

Officer Aycock says ‘Find ‘em Friday” is working.

“It’s doing well. From the first one we posted in the middle of April – we’ve had a couple of arrests from that one already,” said Officer Aycock. “It’s doing well. Even though we’re a small agency, it’s all about getting the audience to tune in to what we’re saying.”

And police say that idea spurned another.

“So then we got to thinking what about the people we don’t know. We’re still trying to identify those people” said Officer Aycock.

The department launched a spin-off this week called “Who are they Wednesday.”

Officer Aycock says the first week caught people’s attention.

“We’ve had quite a bit of activity. Obviously, we hope we get a lot of views. We’ve had a lot of reaches on Facebook from it. We posted it on our newly established YouTube channel and link it over to Facebook. The more it gets passed around and shared, the more people will open it up.”

"Pretty good idea," a Matthews resident told WBTV. "Everyone - it’s a little bit more accessible for people who don’t have time necessarily to watch the news with their schedules so they just kinda see it whenever and report to them whenever they can."

“That’s the key these days is try to get someone to give you a minute or two of your time to look at it.”

Officer Aycock says the Department hasn’t decided whether to post videos every week.

“It depends – it may not be a thing that we do every week. It may depend on you know because we have some cases that we may not be able to release certain information about suspects or something. So it depends how many we have. We don’t want to get people where they’re just kind of… where they’re numb to it because they’re seeing it all the time. We want it to be kind of fresh as it can be, like I said, to keep people engaged.”

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