Ames Police Department Mixing Mystery with Community Outreach

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AMES, Iowa -- It's the priority of police departments nationwide to keep residents safe but the Ames Police Department is taking a creative approach to connect with the community.

It’s called “picture gAmes” and it’s the brainchild of ten-year veteran officer Eric Snyder.

“Sometimes I like to sit in my office and get creative,” he smiles. "It’s a game with pictures and games. It just happens to have the word Ames in it."

The game is a part of a social media campaign to get people to look up from their phones and notice their surroundings, something Snyder says he was inspired to do.

"There are a ton of beautiful things in this town and even living here for as long as I have since 2001, there are a lot of things I didn’t notice," Snyder said.

The department launched the campaign last week. It will post a picture of something or someplace on Facebook with a clue. People are encouraged to post their answers, then officers will respond with an interesting fact or safety tip relating to the image.

Chet Archuich says he likes the idea.

“It gets people out of the media they are using at the moment and it gets them to see what's going on around town,” Archuich said.

Law enforcement says the game doesn’t just educate people on their surroundings, it’s also a chance to connect with the community.

“We're just one bad day from someone making a mistake or a headline-hitting the newspapers that isn’t favorable to us,” says Snyder. “We have to do anything we can to connect with people ahead of time so the conversation is already started so when something like that happens, the lines of communication are already there.”

Each week, the department will post a new clue to it’s Facebook page.