Local residents now can find incident and arrest reports for Yellowstone County online.
The Yellowstone County Sheriff’s Office began posting weekly reports to its Facebook page on Monday. One report includes all arrests made in the previous week, with the arrested individual’s name and age, anticipated criminal charge, and time and date of arrest.
The other report lists incident information for fires, thefts, burglaries and vandalism. Entries with no business name are for personal residences and show only cross streets.
The online announcement about the new practice reached 9,200 people, or more than four times the number a typical post reaches.
“Actually it was pretty good. I was kind of surprised,” Undersheriff Kevin Evans said.
Evans, who manages the Facebook page, said the move began as a way to save a trip for the Yellowstone County News, which had been collecting the weekly reports for publication. But the move benefits the public as a whole, Evans said.
“We’re just trying to reach out there and make sure the public’s informed,” Evans said, “and hopefully it’s info that they want to see.”
Evans also uses the page to post surveillance videos to seek the public's help identifying a suspect. It posts names and photos of new hires, press releases and photos of events the sheriff's office attends.
The Billings Police Department uses its Facebook page for many of the same uses, but it does not post incident or arrest reports.
Evans joked that he’s not “the most savvy Facebook individual,” and is working to make the reports easier to read online, especially for mobile users. Some users commented that the reports weren’t readable on smaller screens.