A Facebook page popped up Wednesday on the Internet informing people in Baton Rouge where sobriety checkpoints and speed traps are located, and law enforcement officials have mixed reactions to it.
The social networking site also has pages providing the same information for other south Louisiana cities.
The pages are each titled “DWI Checkpoint” with a city name attached and include information about where DWI checkpoints and speed traps are in the respective city.
While the creators — or administrators — of the pages are anonymous, they post news stories and news releases from law enforcement agencies about sobriety checkpoints.
Facebook users also post information about checkpoints and speed traps they have seen.
The Baton Rouge page had more than 5,000 followers Thursday evening.
A Louisiana State Police spokesman, Lt. Doug Cain, said he was not sure why the pages were created.
“I hope that it’s not to promote impaired driving,” he said. “Our priority is always public safety.
“We accomplish that through both enforcement and education. And we’re going to continue to do that, regardless of a Facebook page.”
The Baton Rouge Police Department sees the DWI Facebook page in a positive light, said Sgt. Donald Stone, a police spokesman.
Stone said the Police Department does not believe the page will encourage drunken drivers to take alternate routes to avoid detection at checkpoints.
“People are going to slow down or they’re not going to drive and drink,” Stone said.
But East Baton Rouge Parish Sheriff’s Office spokeswoman Casey Rayborn Hicks said her department does not consider the page “a good thing.”
Hicks said the Sheriff’s Office has no way of knowing if the postings have affected the number of people arrested for driving while intoxicated.
“We hope that people will practice safe driving practices and obey the law at all times and in all locations, regardless of checkpoints,” she said.
All but one of the pages’ administrators declined comment for this story.
The New Orleans page’s administrator, who did respond, did not provide an identity.
The response, posted on the page, said the purpose of the pages is “about promoting awareness and keeping everyone safe.”
Comments from Facebook users have been both positive and negative.
Comments on the Baton Rouge page are mostly positive.
A Baton Rouge Community College student and user of the Baton Rouge page, Justin Forbes, told other followers Wednesday about a DWI checkpoint on Plank Road past Harding Boulevard in a posting.
Later, during an interview, Forbes said he is not sure what to think of the pages.
Forbes said warning people about checkpoints is a good idea, but he also worries the pages’ information ultimately will encourage people to take alternative routes to avoid detection at checkpoints.
“It’s Baton Rouge; it’s a college town, and it’s full of rednecks that will drink and drive,” Forbes said.
The first south Louisiana DWI page appeared Saturday on Facebook and said it covered the Slidell area.
It had nearly 9,000 followers as of Thursday afternoon.
Slidell Police Chief Randy Smith said he is not a fan of the Facebook pages.
“It was kind of shocking,” Smith said. “I don’t know who’ behind it.”
Smith said his department would “combat” the pages by either setting up more checkpoints or relocating checkpoints after a short period of time.
“We’re doing it for the safety of the community and to, of course, get drunk drivers off the road,” Smith said. “To start a Facebook page with the intention of notifying people where we are, hinders what we’re attempting to do.”
The New Orleans page had nearly 2,500 followers and the Lafayette page had more than 2,300 followers as of Thursday evening.
New pages for Mandeville, Houma and Alexandria formed Thursday.
Lafayette Police Department spokesman Cpl. Paul Mouton said his department frowned on the Facebook pages, but he also said finding out where checkpoints are located is “something out of our control.”
“If they know our location, then it won’t necessarily discourage them,” Mouton said. “They’ll take alternative routes.”