HARTFORD, Conn. — A Connecticut police department has reached a deal with a fugitive that would have him surrender if enough people respond to a wanted poster on social media, an agreement that at least one expert calls unethical.
Jose Simms, 29, who is believed to be somewhere in New York, has seven arrest warrants and is being sought as a fugitive after failing to appear in court on charges that range from breach of peace to risk of injury to a child.
Torrington police Lt. Brett Johnson posted on the department’s Facebook page Wednesday that Sims had contacted him through the social media site and agreed to turn himself in if the post containing his poster gets 15,000 likes.
Johnson said he negotiated Simms down from 20,000 likes.
“It will be difficult but is doable,” Johnson wrote.
He also suggested that if anyone knows where Simms is hiding they could let police know and save the department some suspense.
But Maki Haberfeld, an expert in police ethics and procedure at the John Jay College of Criminal Justice, said 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,” she said. “People will start looking at these various violations of law as a game.”
Simms, contacted by The Associated Press through Facebook, said he is serious about the offer.
“I wanted to give them a little incentive for all the hard work they put in to catch me,” he wrote.
Simms said the charges stemmed from domestic problems and he is tired of running from authorities.
“Looking over your shoulder every 5 seconds can cause a lot of stress,” he wrote.
Torrington police did not immediately respond to a request for further comment.
Simms said he is prepared to live up to his end of the agreement, insisting he is a “man of my word.”
Haberfield said Sims is clearly getting a lot of attention, and that is exactly what he wants.
“This is 100% manipulation,” she said. “And for police, it’s not an ethical thing to do.”