Fayetteville, N.C. — Fayetteville police are using mobile messaging to enlist area residents in rounding up suspects wanted for serious crimes.
Police send out alerts using Nixle.com to the mobile devices of residents who have signed up for the service.
"I call it the 'Bad Guy Twitter,'" police spokesman Dan Grubb said. Twitter is a “microblogging” service that enables its users to send and read short text messages.
Fayetteville police named their service FPD Bluelight Special. The goal is to tap into the growing number of people carrying mobile communication devices -- like Internet-enabled cell phones -- and help them become vigilant crime watchers.
"A police officer cannot be on every street corner, 24 hours a day, seven days a week," Sgt. Steve McIntosh said.
Police are using the FPD Bluelight Special to highlight a villain of the week -- a suspect wanted on serious charges.
"They're not just people doing first-time breaking-and-entering or robberies. These people are career criminals," McIntosh said.
Last Wednesday, the villain of the week was William Bruce Clark, 38, of 1916 Aspen Circle. Clark was wanted in a May 6 robbery in which the victim was punched with brass knuckles, breaking his jaw.
Soon after the Bluelight Special alert for Clark was sent out, police got a call from some Fayetteville residents.
"They said, 'We have the guy right here, right now,'" Grubb said. Police responded quickly and found Clark. "He had the deer-in-the-headlights look, so it works."
This Wednesday, police sent out a Bluelight Special alert for Willie Joseph Webb Jr., 37, who is wanted for assault with a deadly weapon, statutory rape, possession of a stolen vehicle, a probation violation, driving with a revoked license.
In a wireless world, the FPD Bluelight Special is one more way to put pressure on those on the lam, police said.
"One of the goals I have with these guys in particular is making them feel as uncomfortable as we can, because they're going to see it too," Grubb said.