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The Role of Social Media in Law Enforcement

Posted by eFORCE on December 13, 2016

social_media-027014-edited.jpgSocial media is being used more and more by law enforcement, and not just to fight internet related crimes. From felons on Facebook to tips via Twitter, social media has become a tool to help solve crimes that are happening on the street, and behind closed doors, within your community.

Some benefits to having a social media presence for your department or agency include:

  • Being connected with people in your community will help build a relationship of trust and a sense of unity.
  • Greater control over your department’s reputation with the community.
  • A public forum where people can ask questions and your department can share resources and tips that you may not be able to share otherwise.
  • A channel to spread information quickly that could protect the community, help find suspects, missing persons, etc.

Gone are the days when police blotters were kept as a list of events that would be made public once a day. Officers now use Twitter feeds, Instagram threads, Facebook fan pages and blog posts to publish police blotter news in real-time.

Local newspapers have been publishing registers of crimes and arrests on their websites for some time. But social media now allows police departments to share crime statistics and other information directly with the public, independent of local news sources. Reporters are able to get details directly from a stream of up-to-date data and blog posts that come from the department, itself.

Social media also gives law enforcement agencies the ability to post descriptions of criminals on the most trafficked spots. Similar to the “wanted” poster of the old days, but with millions of users. With exceptional reach, and the quick exchange of text, photos, and videos, sites such as Twitter, Facebook, and YouTube are perfect for getting the word out about a wanted person with up-to-the minute details.

Social media will only continue to evolve, providing additional ways to communicate with the citizens in your community. Are you in a position to use it to your advantage?

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