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
  • fire_23 Investigators seek cause of West End fire

    The cause of a five-alarm fire early Monday at a vacant structure in the 500 block of Dorothy Avenue in Johnstown’s West End has not been determined, according to city fire officials.

    July 22, 2014 1 Photo

  • Richland seeks loan for roof, HVAC work

    Richland Township’s plans to replace the municipal building’s roof and heating and air conditioning system will cost nearly $600,000, Solicitor Gary Costlow said.

    July 22, 2014

  • Undocumented children already arriving in state

    An influx of unaccompanied children crossing the U.S. border is spilling over into Pennsylvania, as state officials received word Monday that more than 500 are being housed in the commonwealth.

    July 22, 2014

  • Auditor cites flaws in gas drilling regulation

    Strained by limited resources and the rapid expansion of natural gas drilling in Pennsylvania, environmental regulators have failed to adequately monitor well safety or to provide clear and timely information to citizens, the state auditor general said Tuesday.

    July 22, 2014

  • Driver in fatal DUI crash will serve jail time

    A Vintondale man was sentenced Tuesday in Cambria County court to serve 16 to 32 months in the county jail for a 2011 alcohol-related crash that killed a woman.

    July 22, 2014

  • Tribune Treasure!

    July 22, 2014

  • Reade Twp. water projects receive funding

    Three water treatment systems in Cambria County will receive financial assistance from the state Department of Environmental Protection to remove acid mine drainage from nearby waterways.

    July 22, 2014

  • stoystown Tractor Fest Antique tractors chugging toward Stoystown fest

    A display of a whole lotta horsepower and pulling contests will highlight the 14th annual Antique Tractor Festival.
    Sponsored by Stoystown Lions Club and Laurel Highlands Antique Power Club, the event will be held July 31 through Aug. 3 at the Lions’ park, one-half mile east of Stoystown on Route 30.

    July 22, 2014 1 Photo

  • Irish dance school wants to set toes tapping in Cambria County

    If you ever wanted to learn to dance an Irish jig, now is your chance.
    Kenny Cavanaugh School of Irish Dance, based out of Milford, Pike County, is expanding into Cambria County.

    July 22, 2014

  • Paterno son, other former assistant sue Penn State for $1M

    A son of late Penn State football coach Joe Paterno has sued the university over his dismissal from its coaching staff two years ago, saying he has been unfairly linked to the Jerry Sandusky child molestation scandal.

    July 22, 2014


What is the biggest key to reducing gun violence in Johnstown?

Tackling the area's drug problem.
Controlling folks moving into city housing.
Monitoring folks in treatment centers and halfway houses.
Tougher sentencing by the court system.
More police on the streets.

     View Results
House Ads