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Perception of Utica among critique from officials pushing for UPD Facebook deletion

By NEWSChannel 2

UTICA, N.Y. (WKTV) - The Utica Police Department launched and formally announced its new social media platform Friday afternoon.

The department deleted its wildly successful, widely-viewed Facebook page, launched in November of 2010, because commentary on the site deteriorated. Some economic development, county and state officials complained that it made it difficult for some agencies to market the area and pushed the department to have it taken down.

"If someone's been arrested, someone's commenting about their looks, calling them a scumbag, it's those comments and it does not comport to what we actually set out to do with our facebook page," says Police Chief Mark Williams.

The chief says it got more than just ugly.

"People saw comments that were supportive of the Utica Police Department and they would send threatening messages to the people that were very supportive of the police officers and that's what we want to avoid".

"If we had the ability with Facebook just to turn off the commentary, that would have been a very easy application, but that's something we can't do. We pursued it, we looked into it," says Utica Mayor Robert Palmieri.

Palmieri added that some in elected office and economic development expressed concern that the site cast Utica in a bad light. While Palmieri had not returned numerous calls from NEWSChannel 2 since the page was deleted, he confirmed Friday when asked that the officials who were concerned included Steve DiMeo of Mohawk Valley EDGE, Oneida County Executive Anthony Picente and Assemblyman Anthony Brindisi who felt the perception of the city via the UPD Facebook Page made it difficult for agencies like Mohawk Valley EDGE to market the area.

"No question about it. The same concern I expressed to the chief, the same concern that the chief has said. This is something that has been going on for a while. Some of the commentary out there, very similar to what was on topix, serves no purpose," says Palmieri.

On Google +, the city can choose where they allow commentary. The chief says one example where it would be allowed is job postings, where people might have legitimate questions.

"Because it would be, 'what are the minimum requirements for the job?' So we may open commentary up for that type of posting."

"We have our work cut out for us," says Chief Williams, regarding achieving the same reach with Google + that the department did with Facebook. The department had 25,393 users. A law enforcement agency that gauges Facebook likes of police departments around the country revealed that Utica ranked sixth, surpassed only by such large, metropolitan areas as New York City, Boston, Philadelphia, Houston and Chicago.

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