The Tribune Democrat, Johnstown, PA

Local News

March 1, 2013

Facebook helps round up those wanted on warrants

EBENSBURG — Use of the social media website Facebook is helping to change the way the Cambria County Sheriff’s Department is rounding up the bad guys.

An initiative developed and carried out by Deputy Sheriff Tracy Swope is helping the department locate individuals wanted on any number of warrants and often is letting deputies know what they may be walking into before the arrest.

“She’s gone above and beyond to run down people wanted on bench warrants, and the men and women who are serving these warrants are better protected,” President Commissioner Douglas Lengenfelder said.

Swope, of Carrolltown, has been a deputy for Cambria County Sheriff Bob Kolar for 11 years. She said she got the idea of starting a department Facebook page after realizing the vast amount of information people post about themselves, those living with them and their friends and neighbors.

“People just post so much information and it’s just out there,” Swope said.

With a daily average of 3,500 “likes,” a Facebook term used to describe visitors to the site, the sheriff’s department is letting the people know who they are seeking to serve with criminal and domestic court warrants, even outstanding sex offenders.

“There are people who want to know if someone is wanted, if we’re looking for someone, so they contact me,” Swope said.

Swope regularly lists the fugitives the department is looking for and a surprising number of responses have come in, she said.

Much of the information is generated throughout the day and she works a couple hours in the evening, after her 2-year-old son is in bed, to match things up.

Her goal is to respond to all of the inquiries and get information ready for the other deputies to use the next day.

In the month of February, Swope was able to credit seven apprehensions based on Facebook information.

“Some of them were for pretty serious crimes,” she said.

All of the information and tips passed onto her are kept anonymous, and the public is asked to respond via private message on Facebook, email or any other form, she said.

“People are sharing this stuff, they are just getting the word out,” she said. “They’ll say things like, ‘look here, you might want to look in this area for someone.’ ”

The initiative has the full support of Kolar, who likes to refer to Swope’s petite physical appearance when he speaks of the success and her dedication to the Facebook page.

“She’s short in stature, but don’t let that fool you, she is a giant when it comes to work ethics,” Kolar said.

Lengenfelder cited on example when a team of deputies were sent out with a search warrant to a mobile home. They went with information about how many people should be living in the home, but upon arrival were told only one person was around.

“They found three more people hiding under the trailer in a secret compartment,” Lengenfelder said.

“Tracy has armed our people with much more than a gun. They’ve got information,” he said.

Click here to subscribe to The Tribune-Democrat print edition.

Click here to subscribe to The Tribune-Democrat e-edition.

Text Only | Photo Reprints
Local News
  • Home is Where The Tribune-Democrat is Delivered!

    April 18, 2014

  • new councilman Judge fills City Council vacancy

    A lifelong Johnstown resident who has never sought election to public office was named Thursday to fill the vacancy on City Council.

    April 17, 2014 1 Photo

  • Cawley Lt. Gov. Cawley pushes jobs plan during Johnstown visit

    Lt. Gov. Jim Cawley got to see firsthand many of the training tools used by Hiram G. Andrews Center students on Thursday and took some time to promote a program called Jobs for All, part of Gov. Tom Corbett’s JOBS1st PA agenda.

    April 17, 2014 1 Photo

  • home VIDEO | Volunteers ‘blitz build’ replacement home for Upper Yoder man

    One week ago, Joey Varmecky had almost nothing.
    In October, a flue fire claimed his Swank Street home. That night, Varmecky, a deaf and partially blind man who doesn’t speak, showed up on the doorstep of his friend’s home. His feet were covered only by a pair of stockings.

    April 17, 2014 1 Photo

  • Toomey & Shuster Bill would help identify unclaimed remains of veterans

    The cremated remains of an estimated 47,000 veterans are stored throughout the United States, sometimes in nothing more than nondescript metal canisters on shelves.

    April 17, 2014 1 Photo

  • million Lucky Seward man finds ticket to riches

    People often play the lottery and dream about the things they would do if they won the big one.
    That dream came true for Karl Kadi of Seward, who won $1 million on a $20 Max-A-Million scratch-off lottery ticket.

    April 17, 2014 1 Photo

  • Farrish, James State police make another drug bust on turnpike

    A Pittsburgh man was jailed Thursday after state police said they found about $120,000 in suspected heroin during a traffic stop on the Pennsylvania Turnpike in Stonycreek Township, Somerset County.

    April 17, 2014 1 Photo

  • Sisco, Ryan James & John Patrick Two brothers charged in beating at bar

    Two Johnstown brothers were jailed Wednesday after police said they beat a man so badly he suffered a concussion and may end up blind in one eye.

    April 17, 2014 1 Photo

  • path of flood Path of Flood entries due

    Anyone interested in participating in Johnstown Area Heritage Association’s  Path of the Flood Historic Half Marathon and 5K race will need to get in gear before the April 30 registration deadline.

    April 17, 2014 1 Photo

  • Drilling fees should fund education, Democrats say

    Democrats running for governor seem to be competing to convince voters they will dip deepest into the pockets of gas drillers to replace $1 billion that Gov. Tom Corbett has cut from education spending.

    April 17, 2014


Do you think that Jack Williams will get the 270 signatures from city residents needed in order to have a referendum placed on a municipal ballot to have the city's pressure test mandate repealed?

I'm not sure
     View Results
House Ads