LANCASTER COUNTY — Sgt. Michael T. Piacentino is the Manheim Township Police Department’s Public Information Officer. His duties include serving as a spokesperson and public face of the department.
But where Piacentino really shines is as a headline writer for the posts on the department’s Crimewatch page and its posts on social media.
Piacentino’s alliterative, eye-catching headlines are designed to solicit tips from the public, which the department uses to help identify suspects.
“We used to do the old, typing up a story, sending it out, hoping the news would run with it,” Piacentino said in an interview Tuesday with FOX43’s Grace Griffaton. “Now, we’re doing it all ourselves through our own website, through the Crimewatch website, through social media — Facebook, Twitter, you name it — we’re doing all of it.”
Piacentino has served with the Manheim Township Police Department for 16 years, and has been its PIO for the last three years.
He said the idea to add some creative flair to his crime post headlines came from training sessions he received on effective use of social media.
“We could just put up a story that says ‘Retail Theft Occurred,'” he said. “That doesn’t necessarily draw attention from the reader. I try to come up with a play on words, whether that be calling (the suspect) a pirate, a marauder, a swindler, and try to tie that in with the item they stole. It’s a play on words, it’s kind of humorous, and it draws attention.
“The goal here is that the word gets out. We want people to see what we’re putting out, so they could potentially help us in solving these crimes. And we’ve actually found that using this has been extremely helpful. We’ve had a lot of clearances from tips we’ve received from the public because of this particular tool.”
Here are some of Piacentino’s greatest headline hits:
Veterans Day weekend must have been a busy time for criminal suspects, as the above entry is one of four creative crime posts to show up on the Manheim Township Police Department’s Crimewatch page on Monday.
In addition to “Candle Caper,” we enjoy the alliterative genius of “parrafin pirates.”
We enjoy the alliteration of “counterfeit currency crooks” and “bunch of bogus bills” in the same headline.
The suspect in this caper was identified one day after the incident was posted on Manheim Township’s Crimewatch page.
This Crimewatch entry also led police to the suspect’s identity.
“Merchandise Marauders.” LOL
An informal poll of the FOX43 newsroom reveals the above entry is Sgt. Piacentino’s magnum opus.
A description of the crime AND fashion commentary? *Chef’s kiss*
Is Sgt. Piacentino making a reference to “Homer vs. the Eighteenth Amendment” from Season 8 of “The Simpsons” here? We hope so.