By MAX FILBY
Ohio Police Chief David Oliver may not oversee the biggest city, but on Facebook, his department is second only to New York City.
Oliver, police chief in Brimfield, is known for his comments and open letters on his department’s Facebook page. The chief has been so successful at attracting followers that his department’s page has the second most “likes” after New York City’s Police Department, he told 30 Flag City Morning Rotary members during a visit to Findlay on Wednesday.
“I’m pretty good at not keeping my mouth shut on there,” Oliver said. “They say if you get 500 likes then you’re doing good.”
Brimfield’s Police Department now has 147,000 followers on Facebook, in a town of about 10,500 located in northeastern Ohio. While Oliver said his intention wasn’t to get as many likes as possible, he said the page has been a great way to inform the public and bridge the gap between police and citizens.
“Residents have a right to know what’s going on,” Oliver said.
Oliver shared some of the stories he’s posted on the department’s Facebook page, including one about a theft where a man tried to steal a 50-inch TV from a Walmart.
Police also filed drug charges against the thief after finding cocaine in his pocket, despite him denying that the pants he was wearing were actually his.
“I asked him, ‘Did you get dressed in the dark this morning?’ and he said, ‘Yes, I did, I didn’t recognize the pants weren’t mine.’”
Oliver has also shared open letters on Facebook to the families affected by the Sandy Hook massacre, and one to Kanye West, criticizing comments he made saying that performing was the same as being a police officer or a soldier. Both posts were liked and shared thousands of times, the first one in a few days and the second one within just a few minutes, Oliver said.
“I probably walked out to ask one of my officers what we were doing for lunch and within seven minutes I had an email from Facebook saying it went viral,” Oliver said about his open “Letter to West.”
Oliver was invited to speak at the Rotary meeting as part of a fundraiser for the Fraternal Order of Police’s Fort Findlay Lodge 20 “shop with a cop” program, put on every holiday season to provide needy children with gifts.
The fundraiser will net the group around $200 to $300, helping it to buy presents for a few of the 110 kids it plans to help later this year, said David Hill, FOP president.
“Any amount helps,” Hill said. “Our main goal is to just help more and more each year.”
The union has helped nearly 1,000 kids since the program’s inception in 2002, Hill said.
Oliver said he also participates in a similar “shop with a cop” program in the Brimfield area. Oliver and his wife have also started a foundation in his name that helps survivors of sexual assault.
Oliver has also written a book, “No Mopes Allowed,” about being a police chief and an Internet sensation.
Oliver, who jokes about being named “the coolest police chief ever” on websites such as The Huffington Post and TMZ, said he spends about four hours a day monitoring the Facebook page and notifying community members of crimes through it.
“I printed that off and showed it to everyone in the department and said ‘look who you work for.’”
Despite his time spent online, Oliver said he’s still most committed to fulfilling his job of helping people, catching criminals and showing people that police are just like them.
“I will ride this horse as long as I can,” he said. “When I’m driving and I’m in my plain clothes and a cop gets behind me, I get nervous, too. I think, ‘Go follow a real criminal,’ unless I know him. Then I start swerving and messing with him. You have to mess with people sometimes.”