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Our World

October 16, 2013

One phone call? For teen in jail, it was one Facebook post

BEVERLY, Mass. — The party was announced on Facebook, and by the time it was over, five people were arrested, with at least one taking the unprecedented step of pleading with friends for bail — via Facebook, police say.

Thus, David White, 19, becomes one of the first people in this Boston suburb to use social media to get out of jail.

Police described a raucous Saturday night gathering of 100 to 150 people, most under 21, in Beverly Farms. Beverly spokesman Mike Boccuzzi said "numerous bottles of liquor and cans of beer" and an "uncooperative crowd" forced officers to call for backup.

In addition to White, two other people under 21 were arrested, as were the adult owners of the house, who were accused of providing alcohol to minors.

At the police station, White was given the standard single phone call. But that's a problem for some young people, who no longer remember phone numbers, which are often stored electronically, detective Lt. Timothy Hegarty said.

"They just look it up," he said.

And sometimes – as in White's case – the people called don't answer, Hegarty said.

Before long, White ran out of numbers to call and asked if he could use his cellphone to put an alert on Facebook. That has never happened before, said Hegarty, who added, "A lot of people don't want to put it on Facebook that they've been arrested."

White used his phone to put a note on his Facebook page on the chance one of his friends would read it. A friend soon arrived with the $40 fee required for White to be released on his own personal recognizance.

Meanwhile, Beverly police have left a message on their own Facebook page explaining why White had been given the privilege of being the first known arrestee to seek release via social media,

"We allowed it; it worked. We are only required to allow one phone call, but when people are cooperative with us, we work with them, and that was the case here. Another good reason to own a smartphone," police said.

Alan Burke writes for The Salem (Mass.) News.

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