Springville Police Department informing the public one laugh at a time

Being a police officer can be a rather stress-filled job, and one Springville Police officer is going above and beyond to find ways to relieve that stress for herself and the community. Springville K9 Patrol Officer Witney Van Pelt has taken it upon herself to run and moderate the Springville Police Department social media pages with the goal of informing the public, while also finding a way to keep many very heavy topics lighthearted.

For starters, on April 1, an announcement had to be made about some new hires at the department that had the potential to cause a less than purrfect reaction. Van Pelt took her time to carefully craft a post that would welcome in the new hires.

“We have two new recruits to brag about on this beautiful spring morning!” the post read. “Our K9 program has done exceptionally well, and after a lot of discussion, Chief Haight approved our first ever feline program! Better yet, it is the first of its kind in the state!” 

The post went on to welcome Neville Furbottom and Professor Rum Tum Tugger III to the department “with open yarns.”

This post was obviously created for the April Fools, and was all in good fun, but there are instances in the community that are stranger than fiction. Pelt has been tasked with the responsibility of delivering less than exciting news in such a way that will engage the public and inform them of crimes committed that should be avoided in the future.

On March 21, at 4 a.m. (0400 hours to be precise), Officer Monney hit a bolt and got a flat tire. Pelt informed the public of this incident by letting them know that all was well, and that Sgt. Eley was “able to respond and teach (Officer Monney) how to fix his very first tire.”

On March 12, the department was on the lookout for a “cartless bandit,” who had been stealing from the local Reams for several weeks, using his “five finger discount to conceal multiple items on different occasions.” The unnamed (caught on surveillance) assailant was given the title of “Mister Sticky Fingers,” and the public was asked to be on the lookout.

February 5, had a man staying overnight at the local Walmart in a move that reminded Van Pelt of the movie, “Where the Heart is,” but instead of giving birth to a baby, the person in question loaded a cart full of groceries and exited the store before opening. This move earned him a “#spicyuber drive over to the pokey.” 

Just one scroll through the department’s newsfeed will reveal post after post of lighthearted reports informing you on anything from warnings of stop lights that have been negatively impacted by strong winds, to teenagers who could be involved in more wholesome activities than theft. You will also be made aware of the whereabouts of Chief Silva’s stapler.

Van Pelt said that creating posts to inform the public in a lighthearted manner has been a way to help bridge a gap between them and law enforcement in a positive way. 

“I think really when it comes down to it, I think a lot of people have a lot of negative experiences with law enforcement, and I think that reminding people that we’re human is important, “Van Pelt said. “Law enforcement is a career that often has a lot of negativity and sadness, and I think it’s good to bring a little bit of positivity into it. Obviously, there are times when I can’t be positive and I just have to give the facts as it is, but I think bringing a smile to people’s faces is a good community oriented policing tactic. I think it makes people feel like they’re involved in our cases, and I feel like it kind of helps bridge that gap between us and the community a little bit.”

Van Pelt is right. Engaging the public in this manner has brought a positive spin to difficult topics, while bringing much-needed attention to things that the community needs to be aware of – yes, even if it’s an April Fools joke about a couple of new feline hires. 

To stay informed on what is happening in the Springville community through the eyes of a self-proclaimed “cop with a high school diploma,” search “Springville Police Department” of Facebook or follow @springvilledps on Instagram.

Arianne Brown
Arianne Brown
Arianne Brown is a mom of nine who writes columns for many local and national publications. She currently resides in Payson, and enjoys looking for good happenings in her area and sharing them for others to read about. For more of her stories, search "A Mother's Write" on Facebook.

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