AMERICAN FORK — The American Fork Police Department is using social media to inform drivers of where officers will be running speed limit enforcement zones in hopes it will persuade people to slow down.
Tuesday night, and again Wednesday morning, the department used its Facebook and Twitter accounts to announce that officers would be patrolling in the area of Forbes Elementary School, 281 N. 200 East, and conducting crosswalk enforcement.
On the second day of school, American Fork Police Sgt. Cameron Paul didn't have to wait long to catch drivers speeding in the school zone — and violators couldn't say they hadn't been warned.
At police headquarters, Debra Hale posted the time and place of the patrol enforcements on Facebook and Twitter.
"So the sergeants and lieutenants will provide me with the directed patrols that they are going to be doing in the city, and I post the information online,” Hale said.
If we can get 100 people to slow down, or get people to pay better attention to kids as they are walking through the school zones while they are going to school, then the police department feels like we have accomplished what we are trying to do.
–Sgt. Sam Liddiard, American Fork PD
The project isn't about getting followers or making friends on social media, American Fork Police Lt. Sam Liddiard said; it's about adding visibility to where police are patrolling.
"We've tried to explain to people that our officers are out there working anyway. They are watching certain areas for speeders — like today in a school zone — and those are places we are normally at,” Liddiard said.
In just a couple of weeks, there has been much more interaction with citizens.
"A lot of people have retweeted our posts and we have had a couple of comments from people happy we are doing the extra patrols,” Hale said.
With school back in session, many drivers needed to be reminded to slow down in the school zones — the hard way. Sgt. Paul gave some warnings but issued citations to drivers going over 30 mph in the school zone.
Department officials said it's OK if their officers don't write as many tickets. They just hope social media posts encourage safer drivers.
"If we can get 100 people to slow down, or get people to pay better attention to kids as they are walking through the school zones while they are going to school, then the police department feels like we have accomplished what we are trying to do,” Liddiard said.
"Please follow us on Twitter and you might find out where we are at on a certain day, and you might save you a few dollars on a fine,” he said.