A Torrington, Connecticut police department announced this week that a fugitive has agreed to surrender if enough people ‘like’ his wanted mugshot on social media.
The police department say that 29-year-old Jose Simms, 29, who they believe to be somewhere in New York, has seven arrest warrants and is being sought as a fugitive after he failed to appear in court.
Torrington police Lt. Brett Johnson took to the department’s Facebook page on Wednesday to announce that Sims had contacted him through Facebook and agreed to turn himself in—but only if his wanted poster gets at least 15,000 ‘likes.’ Johnson noted that he had originally tried to get Simms to agree to 10,000 “likes,” but Simms wanted 20,000—so they split the difference.
“It will be difficult but is doable,” wrote the lieutenant, adding that if anyone should know where Simms is hiding, they ought to let police know “to save everyone from the suspense.”
The Facebook post garnered well over 15,000 likes by Wednesday evening, but Simms has yet to turn himself in, reports CBS.
The publication also revealed that at least one police ethics expert—Maki Haberfeld, of the John Jay College of Criminal Justice—has called the Facebook post unethical, arguing that Simms is using social media to “manipulate both the news media and police, who she said have no business negotiating a deal with a suspect, never mind one that involves likes on Facebook.”
“It turns this into a joke,” added Haberfeld. “People will start looking at these various violations of law as a game.” She says that Simms has gotten a ton of attention, which was his plan all along.
“This is 100% manipulation. And for police, it’s not an ethical thing to do.”
Simms, for his part, told The Associated Press via Facebook, said he is serious about the offer and that he “wanted to give [authorities] a little incentive for all the hard work they put in to catch me.”
“Looking over your shoulder every 5 seconds can cause a lot of stress,” he added. Though he insisted that he’d live up to his promise as he is a “man of my word,” he has yet to do so.
Unethical or not, many Facebook commenters appreciated the police department’s sense of humor.
Albeit, some were skeptical Simms would be a man of his word.
And to those who criticized the Torrington Police Department for their unusual methods…
They basically explained how they had no other options.
The TPD promises to follow up on the outcome of the Facebook post.
Though, unfortunately, announced that they will not be live-streaming the surrender.