The small village of Bristol is battling growing drug-related crime. Since last year, thefts have doubled, drug crimes have skyrocketed and budget cuts have forced the police department to downsize, leaving little time left for paperwork.
"It was just not happening; we were getting hammered here," Bristol Police Chief Kevin Gibbs said.
Gibbs says residents complained about lack of a police log in the local paper, so he reviewed his media policy and began releasing information on the department's Facebook page; something he said was quicker and easier.
"People want to know what's going on and they may know the person that's committed the crime," Gibbs said.
And if someone is taken into police custody, that means their mug shot also goes up online for virtually anyone with internet access to see.
"I think that if you do something that you get charged with or cited for, then I think you deserve to have a mug shot on Facebook," said Bonita Bedard, who works in Bristol.
But others consider it public shaming-- a scarlet letter.
"There's something sort of morbidly interesting about reading the police logs. And this seems to take it a step further," said Ben White, who was visiting Bristol.
"Is there any kind of innocence until proven guilty if they're automatically put on Facebook?" asked Emmeline Wilkes-Dupoise, a former Bristol resident.
Gibbs says the online chatter the posts receive has helped his busy department.
"A name may mean nothing, but if they see a face of a person arrested for a burglary and three days before the burglary we arrested them they were knocking on that person's door, they can call us and we can further an investigation," Gibbs said.
Legal expert Jerry O'Neill, a former federal prosecutor, says while seeing your mug online may make some people uncomfortable, they shouldn't expect any privacy.
"When it's a mug shot, it's public information," O'Neill said. "There's nothing wrong with it going up on the Facebook site. It's the new modern newspaper if you will."
And he says so far he hasn't seen any violations of privacy or the law by police departments using social media.
"I think most police departments are very careful about what they put out," O'Neill said. "They would rather put out a little less than too much, but they've been putting out press releases forever. So, this is a form of a press release."
Monday, December 9 2013 8:32 PM EST2013-12-10 01:32:17 GMT
"It's nothing you ever expect to ever happen to you," said Linda Zeno.Zeno and her husband, Steve, have lived in their South Burlington home for three decades and always felt safe. Until an early morningMore >>
A South Burlington couple came face to face with an intruder lurking in their bedroom, and now they're demanding stiffer sentences for repeat offenders.More >>
Monday, December 9 2013 8:24 PM EST2013-12-10 01:24:58 GMT
An Enfield, New Hampshire man is dead. And a Killington driver has been charged in connection with the death. It happened Saturday night on the Killington Road. Police say 26-year-old Kyle Wilson wentMore >>
A Vermont man admits being behind the wheel during a fatal accident in Killington but denies wrong-doing.More >>
Monday, December 9 2013 8:20 PM EST2013-12-10 01:20:44 GMT
Icy conditions may have contributed to a fatal accident Monday morning in Burlington involving a school bus and a car.It happened on the beltline just south of the intersection of Plattsburgh Avenue. PoliceMore >>
A trip to school turned tragic after a car collided with a bus. The driver of the car died and one of the students saw it happen.More >>
Monday, December 9 2013 7:55 PM EST2013-12-10 00:55:44 GMT
Armed robberies at stores have become so common the Vermont State Police has developed a guide on what to do if your business is being held up. It provides tips on how to be safe and be a good witness.More >>
Armed robberies at stores have become so common the Vermont State Police has developed a guide on what to do if your business is being held up. More >>
Monday, December 9 2013 7:46 PM EST2013-12-10 00:46:42 GMT
Artists are helping Civil war history come alive in St. Albans.Confederates raided St. Albans in October 1864. They swarmed Main Street, robbed banks and terrorized the city. Then the rebels fled toMore >>
Artists are helping Civil war history come alive in St. Albans.More >>
Monday, December 9 2013 7:40 PM EST2013-12-10 00:40:02 GMT
A member of the Channel 3 News family is taking a new job.Kristin Carlson, our Senior Political Reporter and anchor of "The :30," is joining Green Mountain Power as the company's Director of Media.More >>
Kristin Carlson, our Senior Political Reporter and anchor of "The :30," is joining Green Mountain Power as the company's Director of Media.More >>
Monday, December 9 2013 7:36 PM EST2013-12-10 00:36:40 GMT
"We are trying to create a few new affordable housing units so that people have a chance to move beyond shelter and regain their independence," said Rita Markley, Executive Director of the Committee onMore >>
COTS reaching out to Old North End neighbors in the development of new affordable housing and a daystation.More >>
Monday, December 9 2013 7:27 PM EST2013-12-10 00:27:32 GMT
When it comes to education, teachers say they know what it takes to motivate students, and also what doesn't work -- including standardized testing, cookie cutter curriculums and what NEA President MarthaMore >>
The Vermont NEA unveiled its "Agenda for Student Success" proposal Monday, and it points to a new computer education program at one high school as the type of learning kids need.More >>