The lighter side of law enforcement

By on February 7, 2018
“Officer Burke is issuing Mr. Ed a parking ticket for his obvious contempt of local parking regulations on West Lemon Street. We’ll tell you what...stallions these days think they can just do whatever they want. But seriously, despite his precarious parking situation, all ended well as he is unharmed and his owner has been located.” This is just one example of Lititz Police Facebook humor. Photo courtesy of Lititz Police Department


“Officer Burke is issuing Mr. Ed a parking ticket for his obvious contempt of local parking regulations on West Lemon Street. We’ll tell you what…stallions these days think they can just do whatever they want. But seriously, despite his precarious parking situation, all ended well as he is unharmed and his owner has been located.” This is just one example of Lititz Police Facebook humor. Photo courtesy of Lititz Police Department

Lititz Police humor has been a big hit on Facebook

They say there’s always a wise guy in every crowd.

In the case of the Lititz Borough Police Department, there are several wise guys who make the department’s Facebook page one of the most liked social media pages around.

A quick check this week shows the page is up to 7,720 followers, which is an increase of over 94 percent in recent months.

A lot of it has to do with the witty posts that the officers make online. The posts are intended to inform and keep in touch with the community. They are often quite amusing too.

“I’ve found that people tend to read things that have some humor in them,” says officer Jevon Miller, who writes many of the Facebook posts.

Miller has been a Lititz police officer since 2003. To most people, he is a quiet and respectful young man. To those who know him well, he has a great sense of humor beneath that understated demeanor.

The positive feedback has been overwhelming. As a result, there are followers from all over the world, like New Zealand and China. In the U.S., followers check out the page from as far as California, Washington, Florida and Texas.

“Most of them have roots in Lititz,” explains Miller. “They might have lived around here and moved out of the area. They want to keep in touch with what’s going on in Lititz. I can’t explain the people from China.”

The department’s Facebook page got started in January 2014. Miller and a few other officers made simple posts about road closings or neighborhood car thefts. They would get responses, and more than a few crimes were solved through community responses. At the very least, people knew not to head down a certain road that might be closed due to a sinkhole.

“Social media has been a great tool for the police, in informing people and keeping in touch,” said Patrol Sergeant Jared Hahn. “We have received a lot of positive feedback. It is a good exchange of ideas and information.”

They have also returned many dogs to their owners, thanks to Facebook.

In October, a black and white pup found his way home, thanks to a police posting. A tan German Shepherd mix was also reunited with his owners after police posted his smiling face. A few weeks before that, two dogs wandered from their home together and were found together by police.

The Facebook post read: “Anyone know where these two belong?! They were found along East Lemon Street.”

The owner saw the Facebook post and recognized his wayward pups, responding with: “Thank god! They are my dogs. I am out of town and had a friend dog sitting for me. He is on his way to the police.”

The happy ending was shared in an update: “The family has been reunited!”

“It’s been very effective in getting dogs back to their owners. Sometimes the owner sees the post, or neighbors. People share the posts and word gets around quickly,” says Miller.

The Facebook page helped to warn drivers away from a broken water main on a freezing January evening, when Miller, an ice hockey player and coach, wanted to let people know that Noble Street was closed.

The post read:

“100 block of Noble Street is currently closed due to the Lititz Borough Public Works Annual 3 V 3 Ice Hockey game!!

Just joking, but seriously, that block is closed due to a water main break, which has created a makeshift ice surface in the middle of the street/block. Avoid the area, unless you have ice skates, then by all means stop by and lace ‘em up!!”

Lititz Police got worldwide attention in September with posts relating to the Stephen King horror movie “It,” which was at Penn Cinema at the time. First, there was a post about red balloons being found tied to stormwater grates. Then a post as police “fingerprinted” the balloons to uncover the clown suspect, who wore gloves by the way. Then, a group of female suspects was rounded up who admitted it was a publicity stunt. The police were in on the joke, and the public enjoyed reading about it.

At Halloween, they posted a picture of two officers with a child in a creepy clown costume, with this message: “If we had our choice for the best costume last night during the parade, IT was definitely this little guy! And just to clarify, by ‘costume’ we’re referring to the one in the middle! ;)”

“It is a good way to engage the community and let them see that we have a sense of humor,” says Miller.

As Hahn adds, “Too often people just think of the police when they get a speeding ticket or there’s some kind of trouble.”

Some posts approach safety concerns with a witty but meaningful message, as in the police department’s November message relating to Thanksgiving Eve. It warned those who overindulge in alcohol (prior to their Thanksgiving turkey and pie) to stay off the road. The post read, in part:

“As sure as the sun will rise tomorrow morning, and the turkey preparations begin, you can also surely count on a DUI checkpoint somewhere in the area this evening. Here are our tips for avoiding a DUI charge this evening if you find yourself imbibing too much to drive home.

  1. Don’t drink and drive…simple enough.
  2. Call a friend. Not the friend that’s been sitting across the bar all night drinking also. A friend that is capable of giving you a ride home and not getting a DUI themselves.
  3. Call a family member. Too embarrassed to call Mom or Dad, or Grandma or Grandpa? No worries … everyone has that Aunt or Uncle that you’ve just been dying to get back at for not putting a $20 bill in your last birthday card (cheapskate!). Make the call, tell them how disappointed you are in them that you’re not even worth $20. They’ll desperately want to regain the title of favorite Aunt/Uncle again, and you’ll get a safe ride home.
  4. Send for an Uber/Lyft. The price is well worth it.
  5. Call a taxi. Yes, they’re still out there, and again the price is well worth it.
  6. Call the LBPD rickshaw service and ride in style while a uniformed officer pedals his legs off to get you home. Side note, only downhill rides accepted, we work for tips, bring cash!

*Disclaimer* LBPD does not currently own a rickshaw. We’re still lacking the certified rickshaw operators course training and a rickshaw!”

At Christmas, the Facebook page featured a “Charlie Brown Christmas”-style tree with a scraggly branch and few needles, and a donut ornament.

The page has covered everything from Santa’s arrival by fire truck to ducklings that fell through storm grates. They have visited with preschoolers at Moravian Manor’s childcare center and orchestrated a prom proposal at the high school.

There’s crime too, of course. After a rash of car break-ins, police posted this:

“So last night we had a report of persons entering and attempting to enter unlocked vehicles around town and at a car dealership in the 700 block of South Broad Street. The would-be thieves fled the area when they noticed a neighbor in the area on the phone with 9-1-1. One of thieves left in such a hurry that he/she opted to run on foot from the scene instead of maintaining mechanical advantage and riding the bicycle that he/she had rode to scene of the crime.

In other news, if you’re missing your bike and left it behind at a car dealership in the 700 block of South Broad Street around 11:30 p.m. last night, give us a call so we can facilitate a reunion between you and your bike!”

The bike went unclaimed.

Miller notes that he usually writes up his Facebook posts and has people read them in the department before posting. He doesn’t want to go over the top with sarcasm.

His favorite post of all was about the huge Rotary Club Craft Show in August which draws as many as 50,000 people to Lititz. For the police, it’s a massive undertaking to keep the borough safe and secure. Miller also realizes that some people are a bit overwhelmed by the craft show’s take-over of the normally peaceful downtown. So, he wrote a survival guide for those people. Here are a few excerpts:

“How to Survive the Craft Show Weekend 2017:

“We said it last year, and we’ll say it again this year, if you’re a Lititz resident and you’re not fond of the high volume of traffic this event brings to our town, EVACUATE, and preferably before Saturday morning. Take a one day bus tour somewhere fun, take a day trip to the beach and bring us back some salt water taffy and caramel popcorn. Return around dinner time or later and it will be like nothing ever happened.

“For those of you attending the craft show, when you arrive and park your vehicle, first and foremost don’t park illegally, and by illegally we mean that just because it’s craft show day does not mean we temporarily void all applicable parking enforcement for the day…

“To follow up on the parking situation, please, please please remember where you parked your car. Take a picture with your phone of the closest intersection, or house, or whatever landmark is nearby. This will make it much easier for us to point you in the right direction when you come to us at the end of the day and tell us how you can’t remember where you parked your car. Explaining that it’s ‘near the red brick house’ or ‘near the church’ doesn’t particularly narrow it down.”

Miller, himself a devout Eagles fan, posted this on Super Bowl Sunday, prior to the big game:

“We are sending this message with special attention to all Lititz area Philadelphia Eagles fans. We are hereby serving you with this official notice and warning that our one and only officer who is a Dallas Cowboys fan is one of the officers on duty this evening. We will not divulge his name for safety reasons.

“If the Eagles do win, Officer Grumpy will most likely have zero tolerance for Eagles fans’ celebratory antics.”

As most know by now, the Eagles did indeed earn their first-ever Super Bowl trophy, and the pre-game warning seemed to do the trick. Safety and humor seem to be a winning combination.

Laura Knowles is a freelance feature writer and frequent contributor to the Record Express. She welcomes reader feedback and story ideas at lknowles21@gmail.com.

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