The Salisbury Township Police Department has a cool tool for engaging residents and building a good rapport with the community: its Facebook page.
The page is primarily run by Ofc. Bryan Losagio, who is heavily involved with the department’s traffic coordination and traffic grant efforts, and Sgt. Don Sabo, whose main focus is in community relations and community policing. Both men have been with the department since 2001.
The officers see the department’s Facebook page as a way to connect with the residents they serve through memorable, engaging and oftentimes humorous content.
“I saw other department’s pages, and they’re not funny. It’s just like reading another blog and you kind of look over it and the next day you wouldn’t even remember what you read,” said Losagio. “I kind of wanted to do the opposite, where people will read it, it’ll get their attention and they’ll remember it.”
Losagio certainly caught the attention of residents throughout the summer with a series of posts pertaining to the department’s aggressive driving grant program. The program is run by PennDOT and gives police departments throughout the state additional funding to target various forms of aggressive driving such as speeding, red light running and tailgating.
“The violations we target are the ones that statistically show they lead to the most amount of crashes on roadways,” Losagio said.
Losagio took to the department’s Facebook page to highlight the dangers of aggressive driving, while also using humor to catch the attention of Salisbury residents. In his posts Losagio refers to the stretch of road being monitored by the department as a racetrack, and he writes about the speeding drivers as if they are competing in the Indianapolis 500.
“While no one thought that the vehicle traveling 74 mph in a 40 mph zone would be surpassed, the crowd jumped to their feet for the new kid in town, who out of nowhere clocked in at a jaw dropping 81 mph in the posted 40 mph zone,” reads the department’s post about their Aug. 21 aggressive driving grant wave. “If he hadn’t hit his brakes as hard as he did when he saw the police car before being timed he would have qualified for the elite Reckless Driving 90 mph qualifier next week.”
PennDOT organizes three or so waves of aggressive driving enforcement each year. Because the program is funded by the state, Losagio said the department will normally set up on a state highway, such as Rt. 145 or Cedar Crest Boulevard.
The department targeted Cedar Crest Boulevard during their Aug. 17 wave of enforcement. The “winning” vehicle was recorded traveling 78 mph in a 45 mph zone, because they were apparently in a rush to use the restroom.
“Although we did try to write his $240 and five point speeding ticket as fast as we could we can’t confirm he made it home ‘in time’,” the Facebook post jokes.
Salisbury Township Police Department issued a total of 146 traffic citations during its 2020 summer wave of the aggressive driving grant, with 113 of them issued for speeding, according to their Facebook page.
Perhaps Losagio’s finest work came on Aug. 20, when he used the department’s page to alert residents to a found “dog.”
The “dog” in question was actually a female goat, who was later reunited with her owner.
“Despite having a slightly awkward sounding baaaaa-rk and an enormous appetite for eating seatbelts in the back of a police car, she is a really friendly girl,” Losagio joked in the post.
“This post is exactly what Salisbury Twp. needs right now, thank you. Also hope this cutie finds home,” someone commented on the post.
Various posts about the goat received a total of nearly 80,000 shares, Losagio said, which is more than four times the population of Salisbury Township. Sgt. Sabo and Police Chief Kevin Soberick said those numbers show just how much of an impact the Facebook page has on members of the community and beyond its borders.
“To have a 15,000 resident population and to be reaching 80,000 people, I think that’s awesome to show that we’re getting the word out and spreading our service and our department,” Sabo said.
Soberick commends the two officers for their efforts in using the department’s page to interact with the community. Those efforts extend beyond just making jokes. The officers also use the page to spread important information that can help residents, as they did in a July 22 post reminding residents to check on the status of their automobile insurance and driving license.
“Even if one person would have read that and renewed their registration they would have saved themselves almost $200 for a ticket, so it’s good for the community,” Losagio said.
Scrolling through the department’s Facebook page it is impossible not to recognize the amount of appreciation the community has for their officers’ efforts. Salisbury Township police officers are often gifted treats, baked goods and entire meals for their efforts.
“We should probably all be like 300 pounds to be honest with you,” Sabo joked. “In light of what’s happening right now in policing it’s good to know that the residents still care and reach out to us quite often to say, ‘Hey, we support you and we need you.’”
That level of appreciation helps officers like Losagio and Sabo know that their goal of making police officers more visible and accessible to the community is being accomplished. Losagio notes that a lot of people see police cars riding around the community and don’t know who their local officers are.
“We’re trying to change that,” he said. “We want our community to know who we are. We don’t want to just patrol the community.”