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Article updated: 7/25/2013 4:34 PM

Hanover Park police invite public to Virtual Ride Along

By Kimberly Pohl

Most people won't get the opportunity to spend time in the back of a squad car -- at least, not on a voluntary basis -- to see firsthand how police officers go about their shift.

So the Hanover Park Police Department came up with the next best thing.

Lt. Andy Johnson will lead a Virtual Ride Along from 6 to 10 p.m. Friday as he accompanies Officer Joe Giudice on his beat. From equipment checkout to 911 call responses, Johnson will document the night by posting status updates and answering questions on the department's Facebook page.

"We hope it helps generate interest about us and allows us to reach more people and give them an insider's view into what we do," Johnson said.

While Johnson can't reveal certain details such as names, he can describe what the call is, how police are handling it, what decisions were made and why. He encourages interaction from anyone following along from their computer or mobile device.

Even if it's a slow night, Johnson said there's plenty for him and Giudice to do such as foot patrols, business checks, targeted enforcement activities, gang suppression and impaired driver detection.

The Virtual Ride Along, which the department plans to hold on a regular basis, is part of a multifaceted community outreach initiative.

"We've made great strides since '09 when we had that string of violent crime," Johnson said, referring to a spate of four murders in a two-week span. "Now that we have the personnel and resources in place, we're doing things so that the community is more familiar instead of intimidated by us."

Visit the department's Facebook page at facebook.com/HanoverParkPoliceDepartment.

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