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Friday, July 18, 2014

Editor's note: This is the second part in a two-part series about "Lockport Anonymous." Find the first part here.

Local law enforcement has a new unofficial public relations arm: a Facebook page warning area residents about East Niagara arrestees and the homes they live in, as well as people openly selling or using illegal drugs.

Lockport Police Department Capt. Anthony Palumbo wasn't familiar with "Lockport Anonymous" before today, but he said he likes the idea behind it — even if he does have some concerns, too.

"Just in looking at it briefly, it looks like it's a lot of public information that he's getting off the (Niagara County) Sheriff's website and maybe police records," Capt. Palumbo said today by phone. "I'm looking at some of the people and we're obviously familiar with them because they're arrest records," he said, adding that Lockport Anonymous is doing a service similar to local media: getting the word out about crime and criminals in the neighborhoods.

Someone helping to get the word out isn't a bad thing, he said, as long as they're being safe about it — and as long as it doesn't hurt LPD investigations.

"We want everybody's involvement," he said. "It is their city. ... Anything's helpful. We encourage people to get involved but we want that information to come right to us so that we could act on it ... confidentially. .... To really clean it up, it takes investigative steps."

Palumbo's biggest concern was the safety of those involved. "I wouldn't want them getting hurt, obviously. Any retaliation — people are always fearful of that ... reluctant to get involved because of that."

His other concern? The safety and reputations of potentially innocent people being virtually tried and convicted online. "I wouldn't want to see anybody put out there in the public for scrutiny that is innocent."

Additionally, he said, sometimes people who are arrested have neighbors living in different apartments but in the same building. The posting of photos of homes could affect those neighbors and other tenants of the same homes.

Overall, though, Palumbo added again, any help is help.

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