The police department in Bangor, Maine, has had a surprise hit with its Facebook page. In a city of 33,000, the page has earned almost 20,000 followers.
DAVID GREENE, HOST:
OK, this is a different kind of story about Facebook. It involves today's holiday. Let's remember, fireworks are illegal in many parts of this country; case in point, firing off a Roman candle even in the name of patriotism could get you slapped with a fine or maybe even worse if you're in Bangor, Maine.
SERGEANT TIM COTTON: There's a heck of a fireworks show over the mighty Penobscot River on the Fourth of July. You should go. Your own show created for Steve and Melissa on Broadway without licensing will not be tolerated.
GREENE: That is Sergeant Tim Cotton reading for us what he wrote earlier this week on the Facebook page for the Bangor, Maine, police department. His posts do not read like typical police blotter fodder, which might explain why his Facebook page has attracted nearly 20,000 likes from people across Maine and beyond - not bad for a town of only 33,000 people.
COTTON: I just started writing it the way I wanted to read it.
GREENE: And he likes inside jokes, sometimes about fellow officers. Cotton has posted photos of sidekicks like Peanut Butter the cat. By far, the most popular part of the page is a taxidermied mallard called the Duck of Justice.
COTTON: We just call it the DOJ. We're talking about making T-shirts, and there's people already trying to order T-shirts for the Duck of Justice. One of the guys today in patrol mentioned that we ought to have the head of the duck in our police patch.
GREENE: I have to see that - a duck right there on their uniforms. Now, Cotton's national audience has been growing steadily. One other popular feature on the Facebook page - cop car selfies. Officers stick their arms out of their police cruisers and snap photos of their vehicles with charming backdrops like sunrise and sunset. All this is more than fun, Cotton tells us. It's a bit like bribing your child with ice cream to get them to eat their Brussels sprouts.
COTTON: It can be a little whimsical, but we also make sure we get them details in there and promote our officers. If this makes it work better or makes them feel like they can approach us easily, then obviously it's been a success.
GREENE: Bottom line, if you find yourself shooting off fireworks in Bangor tonight, don't be surprised to get a visit from the police. It is not that they don't enjoy a good time.
COTTON: Before you ask, yes, cops like fireworks. Work with us please, and have a safe week.
GREENE: That message from Tim Cotton, Bangor police.
(SOUNDBITE OF FIREWORKS)
GREENE: It's NPR News. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.