Report crimes to police

For crying out loud. Social media is good for many things — but it isn’t the police department or the sheriff’s office. During last week’s Martins Ferry City Council meeting, Mayor Robert Krajnyak passed along a disturbing request from Police Chief John McFarland.

The request was disturbing mainly because of the behavior of area residents that prompted it. The request was a simple plea to the public: If you see a crime in progress, call the police — don’t post a comment or a video on social media first.

Apparently, McFarland has become aware of instances of people who used their smart phones to video record crimes in progress.

Those individuals then posted the videos on social media sites without calling police at all.

That’s crazy.

The police are hired to help all of us, residents and visitors alike, and to uphold the law. Any good citizen should immediately report any crime they witness, not treat the incident like simple entertainment for the masses.

McFarland knows that the public’s help and input can be invaluable to investigators — but the officers have to be aware that eyewitness accounts and recorded evidence exist in order to make use of them.

Posting accounts of crimes online often doesn’t accomplish anything.

Sure, doing so can warn people of potential threats or dangerous patterns of behavior, but it won’t help to ensure the people responsible for criminal behavior are held accountable, and it won’t eliminate the threat to the public as a police officer might be able to do by making an arrest.

Technology provides various experiences that are described as “virtual reality.”

But the reality of crime is that people get hurt and predators are always looking for new victims.

So, if you see a crime, call the police or sheriff’s deputies. Then, if you must, put it out on the internet.