Lockport Union-Sun & Journal Online

March 17, 2013

HOPKINS: Media and public working together

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Lockport Union-Sun & Journal

Lockport Union-Sun & Journal — The power of the media was on full display after a man robbed the M&T Bank branch on Walnut Street almost 10 days ago.

Within an hour we had the so-called “down and dirty” details on our website and on our Facebook page.

Three hours after the robbery had occurred, more than 2,000 people on Facebook had looked at our posting, and the number would eventually reach over 6,000. Some were already commenting about what took place.

As soon as Lockport Police provided us with images — still photos from security cameras — of the alleged robber, we had those online as well. Those images reached over 11,000 people. (We are using Facebook and other social media more and more, and the results have been very encouraging.)

The images were also distributed to area television stations and other media outlets, helping the police get critical information about the robber out to hundreds of thousands more people.

As for the people posting comments on Facebook, many were just thankful that no one got hurt while others hoped that the man would be caught quickly. Indeed, he was.

The March 8 robbery was, for all intents and purposes, solved in the early morning hours of March 11 when Lockport detectives — with the assistance of Niagara Falls police — arrested the suspect inside his Falls residence around 3 a.m.

Lockport police were quick to praise the public and the media for assisting in the arrest:

“Lockport Detectives received numerous tips since the suspect’s photos were shown in the media,” Detective Captain Richard Podgers said in a press release. “The help provided by both the news media and the public resulted in a quick resolution in this case.”

A second arrest would follow, this time the man who allegedly drove the getaway vehicle was nabbed. Police again credited “intensive” media exposure and citizen cooperation in helping make the arrests possible.

Yes, the power of media. We brought important news to the people, and the people in turn responded with tips and other helpful information to bring a quick resolution to a crime.

Often the media takes its lumps — some of it, justified — from the public for various reasons. We’re too liberal. We’re too conservative. We don’t have the story straight. We’re on a “witch hunt.” We’re just trying to sell papers (um, yeah... we don’t do this for free).

However, it’s occasions like this when all sides can come together and produce a positive result. And that’s the power of media.