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Lower Burrell police chief: Call 911 if you see something suspicious

Madasyn Czebiniak
| Thursday, Aug. 9, 2018, 11:11 p.m.
FILE - In this May 16, 2012, file photo, the Facebook logo is displayed on an iPad in Philadelphia.  Facebook believes its policing system is better at scrubbing graphic violence, gratuitous nudity and terrorist propaganda from its social network than it is at removing racist, sexist and other hateful remarks. The self-assessment on Tuesday, May 15, 2018, came three weeks after Facebook tried to give a clearer explanation of the kinds of posts that it won't tolerate. (AP Photo/Matt Rourke, File)
FILE - In this May 16, 2012, file photo, the Facebook logo is displayed on an iPad in Philadelphia. Facebook believes its policing system is better at scrubbing graphic violence, gratuitous nudity and terrorist propaganda from its social network than it is at removing racist, sexist and other hateful remarks. The self-assessment on Tuesday, May 15, 2018, came three weeks after Facebook tried to give a clearer explanation of the kinds of posts that it won't tolerate. (AP Photo/Matt Rourke, File)

Lower Burrell’s police chief is asking residents to call 911 to report suspicious behavior as opposed to going through other avenues, such as social media, to share information.

“If you see something suspicious in your neighborhood, the first place you should go is 911; call and report it so an officer can come over and make contact,” Chief Tim Weitzel said. “Not go to social media and start questioning. It seems like that’s happening more and more.”

Weitzel posted a memo to Facebook on Thursday expressing those sentiments after someone shared a vague message asking how many complaints the city received about two men supposedly wandering around the neighborhoods taking pictures of houses.

Weitzel said he received no such complaints, and his memo indicated that he didn’t find out about the message until Thursday morning.

Because of the lack of information in the message, he wouldn’t even know which neighborhood or street to have officers check, he said.

“I have nobody reporting anything to us,” he said.

While the message contained alleged descriptions of the men and a truck, Weitzel said he isn’t looking for the truck or concerned that it may be involved in criminal activity.

He said he wanted to use the incident as an example to get people to call 911.

“We’re not suspicious of these people,” the chief said. “… I just wish people would call when they are worried so we can go handle it. That’s the whole reason for the post.”

The chief said people have told him before that they don’t want to bother police officers, but he said they shouldn’t be worried about doing that. That’s what they’re there for.

“That’s our responsibility — we expect to be called,” Weitzel said. “I would rather you call us and I would rather it be nothing … then you see something and you think it may be something going on and you don’t call and a crime (happens).”

City officials on Facebook said when City Hall receives phone calls about police matters, officials will usually direct people to call 911.

That’s the best and fastest way to have a police issue addressed.

“Although city hall is always available to answer general questions and help our residents with any governmental concerns, the best way for all involved to handle a police matter is the actual police (department),” officials wrote on Facebook. “You do not want to leave a voice mail of something suspicious that is happening right at that moment, as it may not be heard until hours later and cannot be handled properly.”

Weitzel said people should still share information on social media, but they shouldn’t make it their first, or only reporting outlet. They need to call 911.

To read the full memo visit: https://www.facebook.com/The-City-of-Lower-Burrell-317299344982007/

Madasyn Czebiniak is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Madasyn at 724-226-4702, mczebiniak@tribweb.com, or via Twitter @maddyczebstrib.

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