Rio Rancho resident Brandon Paulson is owning the fact that he made a mistake when he created a Facebook page using the Rio Rancho Police Department’s logo and name.
Paulson, who created the page earlier this month, said he was getting inquiries from local news stations if the site he created was legitimate.
“Once Channel 4 started texting the page, asking if this was the Rio Rancho Police Department, I said, ‘No,'” Paulson explained. “I told the news station that this was a community page; that’s when I changed the name on the page to Rio Rancho Crime Watch.”
By the time Paulson had changed the name of the page, he said, other news stations began posting articles about the site and how RRPD was looking for the person involved with creating it.
“I thought it would be better to get in front of this before anything got out of hand,” he said.
Paulson said he went into the Rio Rancho Police Department to talk to the police soon after the first stories aired about his site to explain what he was trying to do.
“When that happened, I didn’t feel comfortable just talking to one officer. I wanted to talk to the chief,” Paulson said. “So I made an appointment and met with some high-ranking officers.”
Paulson said he showed the officers screen shots and proved he had deleted the page and gave them his password and username so they could see what he created.
“I was told when I used the department’s logo and username, it was considered impersonating a police officer,” he said. “They told me I could face charges, but since I went into the station to confront them about the issue, they considered that a big step.”
Paulson quickly made a video explaining his side of the story after talking with the police and posted it on social media.
“When one of the news articles about this said I was posting fake alerts, I wasn’t sure what they meant because I just reposted what the police departments posted from their Instagram or Twitter,” he said. “I wasn’t aware what I was doing was wrong. I meant to create something that was community-based and transparent…that’s all.”
Paulson said RRPD told him to stay out of trouble for the next six months and the matter would be forgotten.
RRPD spokesman Sgt. Peter Rogahn said Paulson spoke with Deputy Chief Jason Bowie and Capt. Nicholas Onken and no charges were brought against him.