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      Utica Police Department has new social media site in response to Facebook controversy

      Screen shot of the Utica Police Department's Google Plus page

      In response to a controversy surrounding its Facebook page, the Utica Police Department on Friday launched it's new profile page on Google+.

      Utica Police and city officials formally unveiled the new social media site just prior to a news conference this afternoon.

      The Utica Police Department took down its Facebook page two weeks ago after complaints about some of the comments people were posting on the site. Some local and state officials felt those comments reflected negatively on the city's image. Chief Mark Williams told reporters, "they would sends messages, threatening messages to people that were supportive of the police officers and what's what we wanted to avoid."

      Like police departments across the nation, Utica's Facebook page became a useful crime fighting tool. Since it was established in 2010, tips posted on the site have helped solve 47 crimes.

      The new Google+ site will allow the police to block objectionable posts from the public. Though the social media forum is much less popular than Facebook, Mayor Robert Palmieri is confident it will catch on with the community. "It will be open, transparent and the information will be provided without some of the negative comments out there that serve no purpose what so ever. We are a very warm, giving community and that's what we're going to reflect."

      Anyone can access the site, but it requires you to sign up as a member in order to post comments. For now however, the city will not allow the posting of any comments on its site.

      Police Sergeant Steve Hauck said in a media release, "For the past three years we experienced great success with our Facebook page, and enjoyed a following of 25,000 fans. Facebook however; did come with its shortcomings. The inability to control commentary on our page created division within the community and took the focus away from informing the public, and placed it on the back and forth commentary."

      Sgt. Hauck says Google Plus will give the police department "the ability to enable and disable commentary on individual posts."