Elgin Credits Social Media For Spreading Word About Fugitive Before Capture

(CBS) — The Elgin Police Department credited its use of Facebook for helping catch an escaped mental health prisoner earlier this week.

WBBM Newsradio’s Bernie Tafoya reports the department put fugitive Jesse Vega’s picture and information on its Facebook page shortly after he escaped Wednesday morning.

That post was shared on other Facebook pages more than 2,800 times, helping police spread word fast.

“It really has proven to be the fastest way for us to get information out to the community,” said Elgin Police Chief Jeff Swoboda.

WBBM 780’s Bernie Tafoya

jesse vega1 Elgin Credits Social Media For Spreading Word About Fugitive Before Capture
WBBM 780/105.9FM

Police also communicated with local residents using its Code Red phone warning program to caution people to stay away from Vega if they saw him, and to call 911.

The Facebook post about Vega’s escape was viewed more than 130,000 times. Vega was captured nearly eight hours after he escaped, after he hailed a cab while still wearing handcuffs.

“The person that originally saw him running into the cab was well aware that we were looking for him as well, through Facebook and also through the Code Red,” Swoboda said.

Except for the Chicago Police Department’s Facebook page, Elgin’s has more likes than any local police department in the Chicago area.

Swoboda said the post about Vega was, by far, the most shared post on the department’s Facebook page.

“We were getting 100 likes within an hour, where sometimes it might have, in the past, taken a month to get that many,” he said.

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