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Officials to announce UPD Facebook future on Friday

By NICOLE PITT

UTICA, N.Y. (WKTV) - An announcement is expected to be made on Friday about the future of the Utica Police Department's Facebook page.

At a common council meeting on Tuesday night, Utica Police Chief Mark Williams says he and Mayor Robert Palmieri have been working to figure out a solution to the complaints about the page. Chief Williams says they will announce a new social media platform the department will be using.

The site was taken down last week at the request of local and state lawmakers and other officials. During the public comment period of Tuesday night's meeting many people stood up and said how much of an asset the page has been to the community, but also how much of a problem the comment section creates.

The page has been acclaimed at the local, state and federal level. With 25,000 followers it as a useful tool to solve crimes and even deter people from committing crimes for fear their photo would be the next one posted online.

Most people who spoke at the meeting were in agreement that the comments on the page are too negative. "We're trying to build a positive community," said Tyra McKinsey, wife of Councilor Jerome McKinsey. "The UPD facebook page gave Utica a black-eye. I get calls and inboxes from people who don't even live in Utica and they talk bad about Utica because of what is said on the Facebook page.

Officials tried to disable comments but Facebook would not allow that, saying it went against the social media site's core values. "Everybody thinks that because the settings are there, that we have the capability to disable the comments. That's not the case and it wasn't until we were able to actually talk to a live person from Facebook this past Monday that we learned that although those settings are there, that Facebook does not allow you to disable them because it goes against their core values," said Chief Williams.

The chief agrees that the comments are a problem. "Whenever you have commentary about crime you are going to elicit strong emotions," said Chief Williams. "You have the people who don't like crime who are going to speak very strongly and then you have people whose relatives and family members are posted for committing a crime. They are going to be upset with comments they feel are derogatory towards them so by eliminating the commentary I think will solve a lot of the problems."

Chief Williams says the new platform will allow them to have better control over the comments. That announcement will be made on Friday.

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