LAKE PLACID — When there is a threat to public safety or a good or bad event in his department, Lake Placid Police Chief James Fansler gets the word out to the community.
“We are probably one of the most transparent agencies in the county,” Fansler said Thursday.
Through the department’s Facebook page, Fansler informs with tips about scams, bear sightings, local fund raising efforts, new police equipment and police training, missing person alerts, road closures, road construction and more.
A recent post states the department’s officers are preparing for the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s “Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over” campaign scheduled for Aug. 13 through Sept. 1.
“We like to make sure everybody knows what we are doing including traffic [enforcement],” Fansler said. “We don’t want to be sneaky. It also gives us the advantage of when we do catch them to say, ‘we let everybody know.’”
The Highlands County Sheriff’s Office and the Sebring Police Department also use their Facebook pages for similar announcements. But, the Lake Placid Police Department’s Facebook page features more local community happenings and more information about the department’s efforts and concerns.
Also, the jail booking photos of persons arrested on felony charges in Lake Placid are prominently posted on the department’s Facebook page.
The DUI enforcement notice ends with this rhyming advisory, “Don’t drink and drive in LP. We will post you for all to see!!”
Fansler hopes it will serve as a deterrent.
“Nobody wants to have their photograph posted up there in a negative light,” he said.
HCSO Public Information Officer Nell Hays said she does not put the arrest photos on the department’s Facebook page because the mug shots are available on the department’s website.
Hayes said she reserves Facebook postings for traffic related issues, such as accidents and lane closures, scams and missing persons, especially missing elderly.
A recent advisory to remind the public to lock their cars after a rash of vehicle burglaries had 19,000 hits, she noted. “To me that was really impressive and that many people took the time to share it and really spread the word.
“We have not had that kind of response on other scams and things I have put on there, but that one seemed to really hit home,” Hays said.
Hays also shares items from other sites that she believes will be helpful to residents and visitors in the county.
Fansler offered another reason his department is very transparent in the community.
As much respect as the department gets from the community, “we feel like we need to respect them by letting them know everything that goes on,” he said.
Fansler informed his officers that if he brags about the good things they do, he will also tell everybody about the bad things they do.
“That’s why I came out minutes after our officer crashed the patrol car a couple a weeks ago and let everybody know this is what happened,” he said.
Concerning the upcoming DUI enforcement effort, Fansler said his department will be increasing its patrol.
“I will be out myself conducting stops to try to enhance the coverage looking out for traffic offenders — DUI mainly to try to make the roads safer,” he said.
Driving drunk is one of the most careless acts, Fansler said. “You not only put yourself at risk, but you also put everybody else on the road at risk, too, rather than call to get a ride or have somebody come with you and be responsible and carry you home if necessary.”