CARSON CITY — The Carson City Police Department is placing a renewed focus on reaching out to the community it pledges to protect, now through the means of social media.
On Feb. 18, Officer Jason Pattok created the official Carson City Police Department Facebook page, an online platform he hopes will serve as a tool to engage members of the community on a more regular basis.
“When I came here a couple years ago, there wasn’t a great opinion of the Carson City Police Department,” he said. “There were a number of reasons why people thought that. When I came on board, I wanted to get us closer with the community and get the community to interact with us.”
Not yet two weeks into its existence, and Pattok believes the page has already begun paying dividends for both the department and the community.
“With a Facebook page, we can communicate with citizens and they can communicate with us,” he said. “We can work hand-in-hand in solving problems. It works both ways and we’ve already received a lot of positive feedback.”
From simple warnings about keeping parked vehicles off roadways during heavy snowfall to concerns about door-to-door salesmen operating without a permit from the city, Pattok has used the page to share information he believes is important for the public to be aware of.
Pattok still asks that residents call 911 or Montcalm County Central Dispatch in the case of an emergency, but for those who have general questions or concerns in the city, having the page available as another outlet to citizens is a bonus.
Facebook has a wide reach
Earlier this week, when the Carson Village Market grocery store located in Bloomer Township west of the city was discovered to have had its local computer server compromised by hackers, Pattok was first notified about the issue via the Facebook page by a concerned resident.
From there, an update Pattok posted to the Facebook page was shared by hundreds of Facebook users, and eventually captured the eyes of more than 6,000 Facebook users, even though the page is short of just 200 “likes.”
For a community of between 1,100 and 1,200 residents, reaching 6,000 people on the topic of local credit card fraud is something Pattok couldn’t initially believe, but is welcoming with open arms.
“We’re a department of just five officers,” he said. “Facebook is an amazing tool for us to use. If a child were to go missing in Carson City, we can post it on Facebook before I can even put together the paperwork for an amber alert.”
Pattok is hoping the Facebook page will help continue the department’s mission to create a more positive attitude toward the police department in the city.
“There has been a major shift in the attitude toward the police department since I became a member of this department in 2012,” he said. “There’s been policy changes and a proactive approach to getting out there and being a part of the community.”
Pattok said that change was established when Chief Bruce Partridge was hired in 2011 and has continued to evolve since that time.
Pattok said a recent example of community involvement occurred when the department partnered with the Michigan State Police and its canine unit to search the Carson City-Crystal Middle/High School complex for drugs and contraband.
“It’s just a random event, there was not specific need for it, but it was a deterrent,” Pallok said. “That’s just for the safety of all the students in the school. When there’s drugs, there’s typically violence associated with it. Thankfully we haven’t had any of that violence here in Carson City.”
No major incidents resulted in the search and Pattok is hoping those type of initiatives will continue to keep the department engaged with the community on all levels.
Reversing a negative vibe
“Previously there was a negative vibe toward the department in this community,” he said. “People felt the police department here wasn’t really with them. We want to completely change that culture. We’re here for the citizens. We’re young, we’re motivated. We’re here when they need us, not just when it’s convenient.”
Officer Phil Andres recently joined the department in January and said he can already feel that the department is making strides to be more community friendly.
“I came in after this whole change in attitude with the department,” Andres said. “For me, it’s good to know that the community is trying to get a good relationship with the police department and vice versa. The community really is our eyes and ears, so it’s important that we establish a good, healthy relationship.”
Andres said he was originally stationed in the Newaygo and Grant areas, which are communities similar to the size of Carson City.
“The small community policing aspect, I am very familiar with it,” he said. “In Carson City, I love it here.”
Those who have a Facebook page online can “like” the department’s page by searching for “Carson City Police Department” through the Facebook search option.
The department, located at 123 E. Main St., can also be reached by calling (989) 584-6448.