Ocean County Police Blotter Launched on Facebook
Toms River–The scenario plays out every day across towns in Ocean County. Police vehicles, EMS and fire engines zoom past your car or your house and you never really find out what exactly happened. Knowing what goes on in your community is very important and for the past three years, JTOWN Magazine, servicing Jackson Township and Toms River Magazine, servicing Toms River have joined forces with local law enforcement and other independent local news websites to create the Ocean County Police Blotter.
The new fan page, Ocean County Police Blotter, is now open to the public. It is a daily accumulation of police, fire and EMS incidents from across Ocean County, in one convenient facebook page.
“This isn’t necessarily ‘breaking news’, but confirmed news stories in which we verify facts with local police departments, the New Jersey State Police, the Ocean County Prosecutor’s Office and the Sheriff’s Office,” says Phil Stilton, editor of Toms River & JTOWN Magazine. ”There’s a definite need. We started our police blotter services in Jackson and with the support of the Jackson Township Police Department, the relationship has been important in informing residents about what is really going on in their neighborhoods. In many cases, awareness has led to involvement as more and more residents there are getting involved now in neighborhood watch groups.”
In the spring of 2011, the Toms River Police Department got involved, through Toms River Police Chief Michael Mastronardy. Mastronardy has been a proponent of utilizing the local media in his law enforcement efforts during his tenure. ”It’s important for us to get the information out there so people in the community can better understand what’s happening around them. It also helps people take the proper precautions.”
Mastronardy says the information he releases to the media has also been helpful in solving crimes at time. He said his department sometimes receives information from members of the community in response to a published police blotter in newspapers or online.
“One of the things we realized after a few years is that many of the incidents that happen in our area are sometimes intertwined with other departments or agencies around the county and there’s just nothing that puts it all in one place,” Stilton says. ”So this week, we launched the Ocean County Police Blotter facebook page that puts all of our information gathering that we do at our publications into one easy to find location.”
Stilton says that the new facebook page will not report “breaking news”, but will report verified and factual information once it has been confirmed and released by the involved law enforcement agency. “The best place for breaking news in New Jersey right now, is undoubtedly Jersey Shore Hurricane News. They have nearly 60,000 contributors sharing information and news all day long. What our goal is is to essentially be a closer and follow up breaking news with confirmed reports,” he said. “In fact, we have recently built a relationship with JSHN in this capacity where we now cooperatively share information, in order to better inform our readers and their contributors.”
A vision for the future of Ocean County News Reporting
The Ocean County Police Blotter is just one component of the company’s vision for the future. Now with three publications and total combined daily readership of 40,000 readers across the network, plans are in the works to transform the media service which now covers primarily Toms River and Jackson Township to expand to the entire county.
“Ocean County lost a lot a few years back when the Ocean County Observer was sold off and shut down,” he added. ”In the years since, our community has been in a news vacuum, or void of sorts. We hope to bring back the spirit of delivering a high quality of local, homegrown news reporting to the county as we have done for years in Toms River and Jackson. There’s just nobody doing it. We don’t need major media conglomerates from out of state dishing out what they think is important to locals. Our approach has been grass-roots, reader contributed, original stories about everything that goes on in our town. We’re not putting business first like the global media companies, we’re putting community first. I have lived in Ocean County my whole life. I grew up here, as did most of those working with us. We didn’t just show up at the door last year with pockets full of money to throw around in a thousand towns nationwide. We ARE Ocean County, not just a cog in a national network.”
Stilton says as of now, most of the police departments in northern Ocean County are submitting their blotter reports as incidents occur, including Jackson, Toms River, Brick, Lakewood, Ocean County Prosecutors’ Office, Ocean County Sheriff’s Department and the New Jersey State Police. He says that the rest of the law enforcement agencies in the county should be on board in the next few weeks. Once a short testing period of the existing police departments has been passed, more will be added in the weeks ahead.
You can visit the Ocean County Police Blotter facebook page at http://www.facebook.com/pages/Ocean-County-Police-Blotter/423813954320813
Note: This page is not affiliated with any law enforcement agencies and is not intended to be used to report crimes or incidents. To report an incident, please call your local police department and/or 9-1-1 in case of an emergency. Page members are also asked not to post pictures of accident and crime scenes on the page. The page is provided for discussion and awareness purposes only.