IDAHO FALLS, Idaho — The Idaho Falls Police Department is crediting community policing for the quick arrest of a bank robbery suspect on Tuesday, June 26.
“This is quintessential community policing and so we’re really excited when the public engages and helps police their job effectively and efficiently,” Holly Cook, public information officer for the Idaho Falls Police Department told KID NewsRadio.
According to the Idaho Falls Police Department, Craig Blankenship, 36, entered the Bank of Commerce located on W. Broadway in Idaho Falls and gave tellers a note demanding money. Bank employees followed protocol, “to the letter,” Cook said and gave Blankenship the money.
Authorities distributed security camera images from local businesses and reached out to the public asking for any information regarding the robbery and the suspect. Eleven hours later, a tip from a member of the public allowed law enforcement to identify and arrest Blankenship.
“Someone saw those photos and they recognized the man, they identified him and within just a few hours our police were able to locate where he was and apprehended him,” Cook said. “They were able to build a strong case against him and they felt like they had probable cause to arrest him for the robbery.”
It’s situations like these that reinforce the growing trend of engaging the community in helping local police departments. Under IFPD’s new police chief, Chief Bryce Johnson, community engagement has received a bit of a boost. But, Cook also said community policing is seeing more attention on a national scale.
“It’s really an initiative of…Chief Bryce Johnson, to make sure that the community is very involved in helping police solve crimes,” Cook said. “He firmly believes that that’s the most effective way to do policing and all of us agree at the department, so it’s sort of something new that we’re doing to push out more information and engage the public more, but it’s definitely a national trend and certainly shows high numbers of solving…those crimes that are property crimes that there are photos of people, it’s very effective.”
Cook said reporting tips, specifically those situations where IFPD is requesting feedback, is not only welcomed, but strongly encouraged.
“As long as you really feel it’s verifiable or really is nagging at you inside, we really do want to hear that information,” Cook said.
It’s also important to remember best practice in reporting those tips, Cook said. In an age where many find themselves sending and receiving a large part of their information on social media, those channels can present challenges for law enforcement.
“We would urge the public to always call our dispatch for tips, but we also urge them not to report tips on social media and Facebook,” Cook said. “Those accounts aren’t monitored 24/7 and it’s not a proper place to make sure they get in the right area or to the right detective in a prompt manner.”
The best way to report information to law enforcement, Cook said, is to call Idaho Falls Police Department dispatch at (208) 529 – 1200 or simply call 911.
“We urge everyone to call…and give us any and all tips; they’re all very important to us,” Cook said. “We absolutely can’t do our job as a police department effectively without the engagement of the community.”