BUTTE – Traditional Neighborhood Watch programs have been around for decades, but social media sites like Facebook are the new way to watch the neighborhood.
“Neighbors used to go out and walk the neighborhood at night, now they look at their phone and say what’s going on,” said Robert Berge.
Berge started the “Butte America We Just Want to Know” page on Facebook about two years ago to give people a forum to get local information out. The page has become popular for people reporting crimes in their neighborhoods.
“It brings awareness. I saw on my page, I think it was yesterday, somebody had filmed two people breaking into a garage and out of 10,000 people somebody said, ‘I think that’s John Doe,’” said Berge.
Butte police say pages like this help them investigate crimes, especially when people post video.
“We’ve had some success and we’re just going to continue to have more and more with more surveillance out there and more and more people wanting to keep an eye on their neighborhood because of the availability of the internet, and they can keep in touch,” said Butte Sheriff Ed Lester.
Anyone with a smartphone has access to a camera and social media, so they can quickly post something on Facebook about a crime and police say this has actually helped them solve cases in Butte.
“We did have a trailer that was stolen that the person had surveillance they posted on Facebook, and fairly shortly afterward we were getting information from the community about who the suspects were, and actually, there was an arrest made in that case,” said Lester.
The sheriff encourages all Butte neighborhoods to start watch program pages on social media.