Eau Claire (WQOW)- The Eau Claire Police Department is using social media to get personal, one officer at a time.
Officer Todd Heinz has been with the Eau Claire Police Department for 20 years, but 'officer' isn't the only role he plays in the community. Heinz helped create the city's Safe Routes to School program and actively participates with the Bicycle/Pedestrian Advisory Committee. Heinz calls himself an avid bicyclist and is also responsible for keeping every department bike ready for the road.
"Being able to work on them is just kind of those extra things you get to do outside of just being in a squad car or interviewing people, it's just something different which is nice," said Heinz.
As part of a new initiative, Officer Heinz is being featured on the Eau Claire Police Department's Facebook page. He's not the first, but the department said he won't be the last. The story begins with photographer Travis Dewitz. The police department then put the story in to words to post online.
"The main goal of mine is to capture the personalities and them as people, to show that the officers are real people, part of the community. They live here and they work here," said Dewitz.
Dewitz said many people might think of officers as a tool to keep the city safe rather than as a part of the city. This project is meant to change that.
"People have an impression that police officers are police officers, and it's 24 hours per day, 7 days per week and 365 days per year. Now, we are, but we also have families. I think it's just to let people know that we're more than just wearing a bullet proof vest and carrying a gun," said Heinz. "We're all a part of the community, while we're at work and when we're not at work, that's everybody."
The police department said the plan is to highlight a different officer every week.